Here we have applied digital holographic microscopy (DHM) for a multimodal label-free analysis of drug toxicity. NIH 3T3 cells were incubated with 1 μM Taxol for 24 h. The recorded quantitative phase images were analyzed for cell thickness, cell volume, dry mass and cell migration. Taxol treated cells showed rapidly decreasing cell motility as measure of cell viability. A short increase in cell thickness and dry mass indicated cell division and growth in control cells, whereas Taxol treatment resulted in a continuous increase in cell height followed by a rapid decrease and a decrease of dry mass as indicators of cell death.
Multimodal DHM analysis of drug treatment by multiple parameters allows direct and label-free detection of several toxicity parameters in parallel. DHM can quantify cellular reactions minimally invasive over a long time period and analyze kinetics of delayed cellular responses. Our results demonstrate digital holographic microscopy as a valuable tool for multimodal toxicity testing.