Compact Lab Course on Apoptosis Assays

Content & Learning Objective

The processes of cell proliferation and cell elimination are finely balanced in adult organisms. Rejected and malfunctioning cells, as well as infected and deformed ones, are taken out of service and replaced with new ones. Necrosis is the exception rather than the rule here; in the vast majority of cases, cells undergo a form of programmed death called apoptosis. A careful distinction between apoptosis and necrosis is essential for answering many questions.

The theoretical part includes:

What is apoptosis?

  • The morphological and physiological characteristics of healthy, apoptotic, and necrotic cells
  • Regulation of apoptosis and apoptotic signal cascades
  • Common methods for detecting apoptosis

The practical part comprises:

  • Detection and qualification of apoptotic cells using fluorometric methods
  • Distinguishing apoptotic, necrotic, and vital cells by fluorescence microscopy
  •  Evaluation, discussion, troubleshooting

Target Group

Technical and scientific staff with good basic knowledge of cell biology


Associate professor Dr. Rüdiger Arnold  teaches at the University of Heidelberg as a lecturer in several life science education programs. Dr. Arnold studied biology in Giessen and worked as a postdoctoral fellow at the Max - Planck - Institute of Physiology and Clinical Research in Bad Nauheim. Afterwards he joined the German Cancer Research Center and habilitated at the medical faculty of the Ruprecht-Karls - University of Heidelberg in immunology where he worked in the area of activation, differentiation, and apoptosis in leukocytes and lymphoma. Between 2011 and 2015 he headed the student research laboratory of the Heidelberg Life - Science Lab at the German Cancer Research Center.

Cell Viability, Proliferation and Toxicity Tests; Bioassays