Fluorescent stains for quantification of DNA by confocal laser scanning microscopy in 3-D

L. S. Ploeger, H. F J Dullens, A. Huisman, P. J. van Diest

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Confocal microscopy requires the use of fluorophores to visualize structures of interest within a specimen. To perform reliable measurements of the intensity of fluorescence, the stain should be specific, penetrate well into tissue sections, and bind stoichiometrically. Furthermore, emission must be linear with respect to DNA content and brightness, and fluorescence should be stable. Confocal microscopy is used to determine DNA ploidy and to analyze texture of nuclei, which is accomplished in three dimensions, because nuclei can be measured within the original tissue context. For this purpose the sample must be stained with a DNA binding fluorophore with the properties described above. Stains with different properties have been developed for different applications. We review here the advantages and disadvantages of these different stains for analyzing DNA ploidy and nuclear texture using three-dimensional microscopy. We conclude that SYBR green I and TO-PRO-3 are the most suitable stains for this purpose at present.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)63-69
Number of pages7
JournalBiotechnic and Histochemistry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2008
Externally publishedYes


  • Confocal laser scanning microscopy
  • DNA ploidy
  • Fluorescence
  • Image analysis
  • Staining
  • Three dimensional

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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