This material was originally published in the Purdue Cytometry CD-ROM Series,volume 4

Gruppo di Cooperazione in Immunologia

APOPTOSIS:A Laboratory Manual of Experimental Methods

Edited by: Andrea Cossarizza & Diana Boraschi

PREFACE for apoptosis manual

In the last few years,the mechanisms underlying the process of apoptosis have attracted the interest of a continuously growing number of scientists in every field of biology, including immunology. Many different technical approaches can be followed to study the phenomenon of apoptosis, depending on the biological system under analysis, the type of results that are sought, the available instrumentation, and so on. Ideally, more than one technique should be used in parallel, as each experimental approach is suited for studying a particular aspect of the complex phenomenon of apoptosis.

This manual is part of the technical handbook series published by the Cooperation Group in Immunology (Gruppo di Cooperazione in Immunologia, GCI) over the years to introduce young immunologists to specific technical fields necessary for their investigations. Indeed, the manual is intended for those investigators who begin to approach the study of apoptotic mechanisms and feel the need for a series of easy-to-follow protocols to address the different aspects of the apoptotic phenomenon.

Protocols have been rather arbitrarily grouped into four sections, devoted respectively to the study of the entire cell (mainly morphological approaches), to the study of nuclear changes, to the analysis of cytoplasmic changes (cytoskeleton, organelles, enzymes), and finally to the study of plasma membrane alterations. They have been prepared so as to be easily followed by anyone who, with a background in cell biology techniques, wishes to approach for the first time the study of apoptosis.

Relevant information is provided on the applicability of each method, the material necessary for its application, the practical details of the procedure, the problems which could arise and suggestions for their solution. The authors of the various protocols are among the most expert italian investigators in the field. Althought necessarily incomplete and fragmentary, to reflect the complexity of the fast-growing field of apoptosis, we still hope that this manual can be of help not only for immunologists,to whom it is primarily directed, but for all those who like to approach the practical problems of studying apoptosis.