Differences in the biophysical properties of membrane and cytoplasm of apoptotic cells revealed using dielectrophoresis

Fatima H. Labeed, Helen M. Coley, Michael P. Hughes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Citations (Scopus)


We have used dielectrophoresis to determine the dielectric properties of human chronic myelogeneous leukaemic (K562) cells during apoptosis (programmed cell death). Our results indicate that K562 cells increase markedly in cytoplasmic conductivity from 0.28 S/m to 0.50 S/m within the first 4 h following treatment with staurosporine, which then lasts beyond 12 h, whilst cell shrinkage increases the capacitance of the membrane from 9.7 mF/m2 to 20 mF/m2. After 24 and 48 h of incubation with staurosporine, multiple sub-populations were detected, highlighted by the dielectric changes that the cell undergoes before death. By comparing these results with those obtained by common apoptosis monitoring techniques Annexin V and TMRE (tetramethylrhodamine ethylester), it is possible to infer the role of ion efflux in the progress of apoptosis. The use of dielectrophoresis for monitoring apoptosis offers a number of benefits as it is both rapid and non-invasive. It can also be used in parallel with other assays in high-throughput screening applications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)922-929
Number of pages8
JournalBiochimica et Biophysica Acta - General Subjects
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Annexin
  • Apoptosis
  • Cytoplasm
  • Dielectrophoresis
  • k562
  • TMRE

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology


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