Quantification by laser scan microscopy of intracellular doxorubicin distribution

J. H M De Lange, N. W. Schipper, G. J. Schuurhuis, T. K. Ten Kate, H. M. Van Heijningen Th., H. M. Pinedo, J. Lankelma, J. P A Baak

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

49 Scopus citations


Changes in intracellular drug localization accompany doxorubicin resistance in multidrug resistant tumor cells. The purpose of this study was to develop a method to quantify these changes and so detect different levels of resistance. Tumor cells were incubated with the fluorescent anthracycline doxorubicin (excitation at 480 nm; emission maximum at 560-590 nm) and were quantified using laser scanning microscopy. The fluorescent mode was used to record the intracellular drug distribution, whereas the absorption mode was used to define the nuclear and cytoplasmic boundaries. The cell compartments were delineated interactively on an image processing system and the ratio nuclear fluorescence/cytoplasmic fluorescence (N/C ratio) was determine. N/C ratios were: 1.8 in the Chinese hamster ovarian cell line AUXB1 and 0.1 in its MDR subline CH(R)C5; 3.8 in the human squamous lung cancer cell line SW-1573 and 1.8 and 0.4 in its MDR sublines SW-1573/2R120 and SW-1573/2R160, respectively; and 3.6 in the human myeloma cell line 8226/S and 2.1 and 1.0 in its MDR sublines 8226/Dox4 and 8226/Dox40, respectively. The doxorubicin distribution was independent of the doxorubicin concentration within a range from 1-32 μM. Furthermore, the progressive mean of the nuclear/cytoplasmic doxorubicin fluorescence ratio showed that a minimal sample size of 30 cells is necessary for reliable results. The results of two independent assessments showed a high reproducibility (r = 0.97). Thus, with the method described in this paper, it is possible to detect relatively low levels of doxorubicin resistance (factor 8).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)571-576
Number of pages6
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992
Externally publishedYes


  • Digital image processing
  • Doxorubicin distribution
  • Laser scan microscopy
  • Multidrug resistance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Cell Biology
  • Endocrinology
  • Hematology
  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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