@ the Cell Counter

This is a regular feature focused on counting cells with StainFree™ Cell Detection Technology using the SpectraMax i3/i3x Multi-Mode Microplate Reader and the SpectraMax MiniMax 300 Imaging Cytometer.

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Cathy Olsen, Ph.D.
Application Scientist
Banjo, Top Dog



It’s springtime @ the Cell Counter. Across the labscape, creatures of all sorts are coming into focus. In this edition, we branch out from our usual format and show you some of the beautiful creatures (and parts thereof) we’ve imaged with the SpectraMax MiniMax 300 Imaging Cytometer. Enjoy this vernal gallery!


U937 Cells

U937 cells were isolated from a histiocytic lymphoma of a 37-year-old male patient in 1974. Because they are one of just a few cell lines available that express many monocytic characteristics, they are often used to study the behavior and differentiation of monocytes.


A431 Cells

Derived from the epidermis of an 85-year old female patient and established by D. J. Giard et al., A431 cells have proven to be a valuable model system for examining the cell cycle, apoptosis, and cancer.


MCF-7 Cells

MCF-7 is one of the few breast cancer cell lines to express substantial levels of estrogen receptor (ER) alpha, thus it offers researchers a valuable model system for the study of ER-positive breast cancers.


Jurkat Cells

Jurkat cells are a T-lymphocyte cell line that have been used to study T-cell leukemia, T-cell signaling, and cancer cell sensitivity to drug treatments.


HepG2 Cells

HepG2, a cell line derived from the liver tissue of a patient with hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), is often used as a model system for HCC as well as for studies of drug metabolism and toxicity.


RBL Cells

Rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cell lines serve as a model system for mast cells and have been used to study biochemical pathways for secretion.



Isolated from the vein of the umbilical cord, HUVEC cells are a model system for studying endothelial cell function.


HT1080 Cells

Generated from tumor biopsy tissue, the fibrosarcoma cell line HT1080 is highly invasive and is often used as a model for cell invasion and migration.


THP-1 Cells

Derived from the blood of an acute monocytic leukemia patient over 30 years ago, the human monocytic cell line THP-1 is widely used to study the function of monocytes and macrophages, as well as in leukemia research.


HEK293-GFP Cells

Human Embryonic Kidney 293 cells have been isolated and transformed by adenovirus, giving rise to the cell line used today. They have been used extensively in transfection-based experiments, protein expression, and vaccine production.


Rat Aortic Endothelial Cells

Rat aortic endothelial cells have been used in a variety of scientific studies including cell-cell adhesion, migration, angiogenesis, and the investigation of cellular signaling pathways involved in endothelial function under normal and disease conditions.

NIH3T3 Cells

Established in 1963 by scientists George Todardo and Howard Green, the NIH3T3 cell line was derived from mouse embryonic fibroblasts. The cells spontaneously immortalized and were named after their culturing protocol, “3-day transfer, inoculum 3x105 cells”. Now the standard fibroblast cell line, they are known as excellent transfection hosts and as models for induced stem cell pluripotency experiments.


PC-12 Cells

First cultured by Greene and Tischler in 1976, PC-12 cells originated from a pheochromocytoma (neuroendocrine tumor) of the rat adrenal medulla. It was developed as a model cell line and an alternative to adrenal chromaffin primary cell cultures. PC-12 cells are able to differentiate into neuron-like cells in the presence of nerve growth factor or dexamethasone. Due to their differentiation ability and ease of culture, PC-12 cells are used in a variety of research areas ranging from drug efficacy to neurosecretion.


HeLa Cells

The first cell lines to be grown in the lab, HeLa cells are still used in countless biomedical research projects today. They were derived from cervical cancer cells taken in 1951 from Henrietta Lacks, a patient who later died from the disease. Rebecca Skloot’s bestselling book “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks” tells the fascinating story of her life and legacy.


CHO Cells

Chinese Hamster Ovary (CHO) cells are an epithelial-like cell line commonly used in biological and medical research. Developed over 50 years ago, they have been used in innumerable studies ranging from genetics to cytotoxicity. They are highly amenable to transfection and have become the most popular cell line for manufacturing recombinant proteins, including therapeutics.