Detection of apoptotic versus autophagic cell death by flow cytometry
Cell Cycle Checkpoints
Protein Kinase Inhibitors
Receptor, Epidermal Growth Factor
Different modes of regulated cell death (RCD) can be initiated by distinct molecular machineries and their morphological manifestations can be difficult to discriminate. Moreover, cells responding to stress often activate an adaptive response centered around autophagy, and whether such a response is cytoprotective or cytotoxic cannot be predicted based on morphological parameters only. Molecular definitions are therefore important to understand various RCD subroutines from a mechanistic perspective. In vitro, various forms of RCD including apoptosis and autophagic cell death can be easily discriminated from each other with assays that involve chemical or pharmacological interventions targeting key components of either pathway. Here, we detail a straightforward method to discriminate apoptosis from autophagic cell death by flow cytometry, based on the broad-spectrum caspase inhibitor Z-VAD-fmk and the genetic inhibition of ATG5.