16 Citations (Scopus)


The neutral red uptake assay is a cell viability assay that allows in vitro quantification of xenobiotic-induced cytotoxicity. The assay relies on the ability of living cells to incorporate and bind neutral red, a weak cationic dye, in lysosomes. As such, cytotoxicity is expressed as a concentration-dependent reduction of the uptake of neutral red after exposure to the xenobiotic under investigation. The neutral red uptake assay is mainly used for hazard assessment in in vitro toxicology applications. This method has also been introduced in regulatory recommendations as part of 3T3-NRU-phototoxicity-assay, which was regulatory accepted in all EU member states in 2000 and in the OECD member states in 2004 as a test guideline (TG 432). The present protocol describes the neutral red uptake assay using the human hepatoma cell line HepG2, which is often employed as an alternative in vitro model for human hepatocytes. As an example, the cytotoxicity of acetaminophen and acetyl salicylic acid is assessed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationCell Viability Assays
PublisherSpringer New York
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4939-6960-9
ISBN (Print)978-1-4939-6959-3
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Publication series

NameMethods in Molecular Biology
ISSN (Print)1064-3745


  • HepG2
  • Neutral red uptake
  • Viability assay

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