How XF Analyzers Work - Seahorse Bioscience

By: Seahorse Bioscience  09-12-2011
Keywords: drug, scientists, Cell Culture

Designed for Scientists by Scientists

From the beginning, Seahorse Bioscience has worked closely with senior scientists, directors and distinguished research fellows at some of the world's leading academic institutions and pharmaceutical companies including Abbott, Amgen, AstraZeneca, Bristol-Myers Squibb, GlaxoSmithKline, Harvard University, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck.

The vision was to develop a non-invasive instrument that would enable scientists to measure cellular bioenergetics in a microplate format—quickly, easily and in real-time.

This success of our vision is the number of different therapeutic groups within each organization that are leveraging this novel technology today.

How Extracellular Flux is Measured

The XF Analyzer measures oxygen consumption rate (OCR) and extracellular acidification rate (ECAR) at intervals of approximately 2-5 minutes. OCR is an indicator of mitochondrial respiration, and ECAR is predominately the result of glycolysis.

Real-time measurements of OCR and ECAR are made by isolating an extremely small volume (less than 7µl) of medium above a monolayer of cells within a microplate. Cellular oxygen consumption (respiration) and proton excretion (glycolysis) causes rapid, easily measurable changes to the concentrations of dissolved oxygen and free protons in this "transient microchamber" which are measured every few seconds by solid state sensor probes residing 200 microns above the cell monolayer.

The instrument continues to measure the concentrations until the rate of change is linear and then calculates the slope to determine OCR and ECAR, respectively.

Once a measurement is completed, the probes lift which allows the larger medium above to mix with the medium in the transient microchamber, restoring cell values to baseline.

An integrated drug delivery system allows sequential addition of up to four drugs per well at user-defined intervals.

How an XF Assay is Performed

Prior to the start of the XF assay, cells are seeded into the wells of an XF cell culture microplate. Seahorse supplied, bicarbonate-free medium is used during the assay. Up to two or four drugs may be added to the assay cartridge for use during the assay.

The assay cartridge is first placed into the XF Analyzer to allow automatic calibration of optical sensors. Next, the cell culture plate is inserted into the instrument.

Typically, baseline (basal) OCR and ECAR rates are measured twice before drug addition. OCR is reported in units of nmoles/minute and ECAR in mpH/minute. Drugs that have been preloaded into the drug delivery chambers of the assay cartridge are then pneumatically injected, sequentially, into the media in each well. After mixing, post-exposure OCR and ECAR measurements are made multiple times.

Because XF measurements are non-destructive, the metabolic rate of the same cell population can be measured repeatedly over time while up to two or four different drugs can be injected sequentially into each well. Upon completion of an XF assay, other types of biological assays such as cell viability can be performed on the same plate.

Total assay time is typically 35 to 90 minutes. To maintain normal cell physiology, a temperature control system maintains the XF Analyzer's internal environment at 37° C.

Instrument Sensitivity: The Results Speak for Themselves.

As a result of a series of novel inventions, we believe that our technology has exceeded the performance of any previous non-invasive metabolic readout. Measurements of cellular metabolism, from one well to the next, one plate to the next, or one day to the next, typically produce CVs of less than 20%. Measurements of the change in cellular behavior as a result of drug addition typically produce c.v.'s of less than 10%. Changes of as little as 5% can often be seen with replicate wells.

Keywords: Cell Culture, Cellular Bioenergetics, drug, Oxygen Consumption, scientists,

Contact Seahorse Bioscience

Email - none provided

Print this page

Other products and services from Seahorse Bioscience


XF Analyzers - Seahorse Bioscience

The XF Extracellular Flux Analyzers are fully-integrated instruments that simultaneously measure the two major energy yielding pathways - aerobic respiration and glycolysis - in a convenient, microplate format. This fast and sensitive measurement of cellular bioenergetics is label free, enabling time-resolved analysis and the reuse of the cells.


XF Consumables - Seahorse Bioscience

Providing industry-leading analytical instruments for biological research and drug discovery, the XF Analyzer utilizes the following consumables. FluxPaks provide the correct ratio of XF Assay Kits to XF Microplates and XF Calibrant to perform XF assays. XF Kits contain reagents and workflow protocols designed to standardize experiments run on the XF analyzers. Consumable Cost per Assay Microplate.


XF Prep Station - Seahorse Bioscience

Incubator, media warmer, cell washer and media exchanger in a compact footprint that can be located adjacent to your XF Analyzer and run by your existing XF applications software. XF users have had to manually remove and rinse cells of culture medium with a multi-channel pipettor prior to adding assay medium and pre-incubating in a non-CO2.