Microculture tetrazolium assays (MTAs) rely upon the bioreduction of tetrazolium salts to their intensely coloured formazans. Although these assays are being extensively used, the intracellular mechanisms responsible for the formazan production are not known. MTAs currently provide the basis for uniquely precise in vitro bioassays for human growth hormone (hGH) which use the Nb2 cells. We have compared two contrasting tetrazolium salts, namely 3-(4,5-dimethyl-thiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyltetrazolium bromide (MTT) and 5-(3-carboxymethoxyphenyl)-2-(4,5-dimethylthiazolyl)-3-(4-sulfophenyl) tetrazolium, inner salt (MTS), in this system. An intermediate electron acceptor (IEA) is obligatory for the MTS- but not the MTT-bioassay. We report that inhibitors of DT-diaphorase abolished MTS- but not MTT-formazan production. We conclude that substitution of MTT with MTS/menadione resulted in formazan production via a different electron transfer pathway which is exclusively mediated by DT-diaphorase.
Document Type: Research Article
Department of Molecular Pathology, University College London, London, W1P 6DB 2:
Department of Human Morphology, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, NG7 2UH, United Kingdom