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Single Cell Viability Measured via Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy and Live/Dead Staining



Kavita M. Jeerage, Tammy L. Oreskovic, Nikki S. Rentz, Damian S. Lauria


Based on its standard reduction potential, oxidized ferrocenemethanol (FcCH2OH+) may act as an alternate electron acceptor to oxygen during cellular metabolism. By locally oxidizing ferrocenemethanol (FcCH2OH) at a microelectrode, we probed the metabolic activity of individual HeLa cells using a scanning electrochemical microscope. For some cells, FcCH2OH+ penetrated the cell membrane and was reduced, leading to an enhanced current known as positive feedback. For other cells, FcCH2OH diffusion was blocked by the cell membrane, leading to a lower current known as negative feedback. Cells exhibiting both positive and negative feedback fluoresced green (live) upon exposure to calcein am, which indicates esterase activity in living cells. These measurements therefore appear to distinguish live, metabolically active cells from live, metabolically inactive cells. Since cells with uncompromised membranes may retain esterase activity and an early stage of apoptosis is cessation of metabolic activity, electrochemical metabolic activity measurements may be an early indicator of programmed cell death.
Proceedings Title
Microscopy and Microanalysis 2008 Proceedings
Conference Dates
August 3-7, 2008
Conference Location
Albuquerque, NM
Conference Title
Microscopy and Microanalysis


apoptosis, ferrocenemethanol, metabolic activity, scanning electrochemical microscopy


Jeerage, K. , Oreskovic, T. , Rentz, N. and Lauria, D. (2008), Single Cell Viability Measured via Scanning Electrochemical Microscopy and Live/Dead Staining, Microscopy and Microanalysis 2008 Proceedings, Albuquerque, NM, [online], (Accessed June 23, 2024)


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Created August 12, 2008, Updated January 27, 2020