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A Combined Method for Quantitative and Qualitative Cell-based Research

Biochemical and cell based assays using a microplate reader provide quantitative data on ex vivo cell behavior, while viewing cells with a microscope allows researchers to see cellular and intra-cellular processes via fixed cells or with live cell imaging.  Both methods are equally important to life science research and the drug discovery process.  Together, these methods provide valuable, content rich data that otherwise requires the expense of multiple instrumentation. 

by BioTek

The Cytation™3 Cell Imaging Multi-Mode Reader from BioTek Instruments, Inc., combines both methods in one compact, affordable instrument. With this unique combination, BioTek brings microplate detection analysis and automated digital microscopy to researchers without the need for separate, expensive and complex imaging systems. Additionally, cells may be grown directly in Cytation3 to reduce environmental variation due to manual intervention. Now, researchers can culture cells and subsequently glean almost simultaneous quantitative and qualitative data. Cytation3’s combination of technologies also helps to streamline cell biology research for improved lab efficiency and increased throughput.

Cytation3 is modular, so labs can select only the modes that they need, and can upgrade at any time as their needs evolve. Microplates from 6 to 384 wells, and microscope slides may be used, for a variety of throughput needs. Optional dual reagent dispensers may be used for inject-and-read assays, and the optional BioStack3™ Microplate Stacker has a plate transfer time of about 8 seconds per microplate, for increased throughput and walkaway automation of up to 50 microplates.


Patented Hybrid Technology™, incorporated in Cytation3 or available as an upgradeable option, combines filter- and monochromator-based fluorescence optics in one compact unit for power and flexibility in assay choice. The filter optics use direct, fiber-free light paths to maximize light delivery to the sample and detector, and dedicated filter optics are optimized for live cell assays. Monochromator optics use quadruple diffraction gratings to concentrate and purify the selected wavelength, thus optimizing spectral discrimination. User-selectable monochromator optics also allow for wavelength scanning and kinetic measurements. Multiple parallel detectors decrease measuring time, and both optical systems may be read from the top or bottom of a microplate for increased assay versatility.


Cytation3 automates cell microscopy throughput compared to manual fluorescence microscopy, and also allows simple assay validation before moving to high-content screening. An inverted fluorescence microscope with brightfield capability and autofocus is integrated in Cytation3 or available as an upgradeable option. Fluorescence microscopy and color switching are available through red (Texas red), green (GFP) and blue (DAPI) LED filter cubes, and brightfield images are taken with a simple white light. Additionally, 2.5x and 4x objectives allow researchers to view and read entire microplate wells, while 10x and 20x objectives allow viewing and reading of intracellular details.


Cytation3 offers uniform temperature control up to 45°C across the culture chamber, and variable orbital shaking to keep cells in suspension, even during long experiments. An optional gas control module regulates CO2 and O2 concentrations for optimal physiological conditions and pH buffering. Adding these environmental variables directly to the reading and imaging chamber reduces cell culture exposure to unregulated lab atmospheres and fluctuating temperatures that may adversely impact results.

The combination of multi-detection reading and microscopy, along with integrated cell incubation, allows for endpoint, time-lapse and montage information to simplify research and assay development, and increase throughput in cell biology research.