The biocompatibility evaluation of nanomaterials is essential for their medical diagnostic and therapeutic usage, where a cytotoxicity test is the simplest form of biocompatibility evaluation. Three methods have been commonly used in previous studies for the cytotoxicity testing of nanomaterials: trypan blue exclusion, colorimetric assay using water soluble tetrazolium (WST), and imaging under a microscope following calcein AM/ethidium homodimer-1 staining. However, there has yet to be a study to compare each method. Therefore, in this study three methods were compared using the standard reference material of sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS). Each method of the cytotoxicity test was carried out using mouse fibroblasts of L-929 exposed to different concentrations of SLS. Compared to the gold standard trypan blue exclusion test, both colorimetric assay using water soluble tetrazolium (WST) and imaging under microscope with calcein AM/ethidium homodimer-1 staining showed results that were not statistically different. Also, each method exhibited various advantages and disadvantages, which included the need of equipment, time taken for the experiment, and provision of additional information such as cell morphology. Therefore, this study concludes that all three methods of cytotoxicity testing may be valid, though careful consideration will be needed when selecting tests with regard to time, finances, and the amount of information required by the researcher(s).
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