ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Buffer

Assay buffer for labeling with the ALDEFLUOR™ kit
Catalog #
Assay buffer for labeling with the ALDEFLUOR™ kit
From: 74 USD
Required Products

    For the identification, evaluation and isolation of stem and progenitor cells expressing high levels of ALDH


ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Buffer can be used when counterstaining ALDEFLUOR™-reacted cells with immunofluorescently-labeled antibodies. The buffer is necessary to maintain ALDEFLUOR™ reaction product inside the cell, allowing detection of the ALDH-bright population. While there is sufficient ALDEFLUOR™-buffer contained within the ALDEFLUOR™ kit, additional buffer may be required for certain immunolabeling procedures.
  • ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Buffer (Catalog #01701)
    • ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Buffer, 25 mL
  • ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Buffer (Catalog #01702)
    • ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Buffer, 55 mL
Human, Mouse, Rat, Non-Human Primate, Other
Area of Interest
Cancer Research, Neuroscience, Stem Cell Biology

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Scientific Resources

Product Documentation

Document Type Product Name Catalog # Lot # Language
Document Type
Product Information Sheet
Product Name
ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Buffer
Catalog #
Lot #
Document Type
Safety Data Sheet
Product Name
ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Buffer
Catalog #
01701, 01702
Lot #

Educational Materials(18)

NeuroCult™: Reagents for Brain Tumor Stem Cell Research
ALDEFLUOR™: For Identification and Isolation of Viable Stem & Progenitor Cells
Mammary Epithelial Cells: Standardized Media and Reagents
Hematopoietic Stem and Progenitor Cells - Products for Your Research
ALDEFLUOR™ Selected Cancer References
Tools for Cancer Research
Technical Bulletin
ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Optimization
Technical Bulletin
Identification of Viable Stem and Progenitor Cells with ALDEFLUOR™
Technical Bulletin
The Basic FACS on ALDEFLUOR™: The Quick Guide to Flow Cytometry
Technical Bulletin
Identification of ALDH-Expressing Cancer Stem Cells Using ALDEFLUOR™
SnapShot: Breast Cancer
The Identity and Properties of Mesenchymal Stem Cells
Optimization of ALDEFLUOR™ Protocol
Flow Cytometry Analysis of ALDH Bright Cells with the ALDEFLUOR™ Assay Kit
How to Detect and Isolate Normal and Cancer Stem Cells Based on ALDH Activity with ALDEFLUOR™
Tools for Breast Cancer Research
ALDH+ Cancer Precursor Cells in Drug Response Prediction
ALDEFLUOR™ and Cancer Stem Cells
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Frequently Asked Question

The reagents in the kit were frozen when I received it. Will this cause a problem?

No, the reagents in the kit are stable to freezing. Assay performance will not be affected.

Is it acceptable for activation of the ALDEFLUOR™ reagent to exceed 30 minutes?

Yes, as long as room temperature does not exceed 22°C, the reaction can proceed for up to 6 hours with no effect on the assay.

Can I speed up the activation reaction by incubating at 37°C?

This is not recommended. Incubation of the activation reaction at 37°C will not significantly speed up the reaction, and degradation of the activated substrate will occur more quickly at higher temperatures.

Will the activation reaction proceed at refrigerator (2 - 8°C) temperatures?

The ALDEFLUOR™ reagent will remain active for 1 week when stored at 2 - 8°C. For longer storage, divide the remaining reagent into aliquots and store at or below -20°C. Activated ALDEFLUOR™ reagent is stable for 1 year when stored frozen.

How should I store the ALDEFLUOR™ reagent after it is activated?

The ALDEFLUOR™ reagent will remain active for 1 week when stored at 2 - 8°C. For longer storage, divide the remaining reagent into aliquots and store at or below -20°C. Activated ALDEFLUOR™ reagent is stable for 1 year when stored frozen.

Why must the ALDEFLUOR™ assay buffer be added?

This assay has been optimized for detecting stem and progenitor cells by addition of the ALDEFLUOR™ assay buffer. Stem and progenitor cells have high ABC transporter activity and BAAA is a substrate for these efflux pumps. The assay buffer incorporates an efflux pump inhibitor to produce optimal discrimination of the ALDHbr cells and to maximize fluorescent signal stability. We thus recommend that cells be kept on ice and that the ALDEFLUOR™ assay buffer be used throughout all procedures performed after ALDH staining. Not using the assay buffer produces a proportionate loss in the assay signal, depending on the time and temperature at which the stained cells are held.

Is it acceptable for the staining reaction to exceed 30 minutes?

It depends on the cell type. With hematopoietic cells the reaction time can be up to 1 hour at 37°C with no effect on the fluorescence intensity. Incubation periods exceeding 1 hour may lead to an weaker signal and/or higher background. For nonhematopoietic cells optimal incubation times may be different. For example, for the human mammary epithelial SKBR3 cell line, the optimal incubation time was 45 minutes in experiments done at STEMCELL. It is recommended to test different incubation times and determine the optimal incubation time for different cell types.

Will the staining reaction proceed at refrigerator (2 - 8°C) temperatures?

Yes, but full staining will take at least 3 - 4 hours. The staining reaction can continue for up to 24 hours at 2 - 8°C without any effect on the assay.

Can I add any other efflux inhibitors to the ALDEFLUOR™ assay buffer?

Yes. To prevent efflux of the activated ALDEFLUOR™ reagent and the reaction product, the following may be added individually or in combination. These reagents may also improve discrimination of the ALDHbr population, but results will vary by sample type.
• 50 - 100 µM verapamil
• 2.5 mM probenecid
• 100 mM 2-deoxy-D-glucose
• 1 mg/mL sodium azide (0.1%) Note: Sodium azide may be toxic to cells. Do not use if cellular function assays are to be performed after the ALDEFLUOR™ assay.
Note: Ice is the universal efflux inhibitor. Keep all ALDEFLUOR™-reacted samples on ice or at 2 - 8°C as much as possible.

Can I stain the cells at a concentration higher than 1 x 106 cells/mL?

Increasing the concentration of cells up to 5-fold the recommended concentration should have no effect on performance of the assay when using human blood cells. Increasing cell concentrations greater than 5-fold the recommended concentration will decrease assay signal and thereby decrease discrimination of the ALDHbr population. However, different cell types may produce different results. Cell titration experiments may be necessary to determine the optimal cell concentration for different cell types. To stain large number of cells it may be better to increase the sample and reagent volume.

What anticoagulants can be used to collect samples?

Optimal assay performance can be achieved with peripheral blood and leukapheresis samples anticoagulated with acid-citrate dextrose (ACD), ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA), or sodium heparin. Bone marrow should be anticoagulated with sodium heparin. Cord blood units may be collected into citrate phosphate dextrose anticoagulant.

Do erythrocytes (red blood cells) interfere with the assay?

The large number of erythrocytes present in peripheral blood, apheresis collections, bone marrow, and umbilical cord blood samples can compete with stem/progenitor cells for the ALDEFLUOR™ substrate. For optimal assay performance, lyse the erythrocytes by treating the samples with ammonium chloride. The ratio of lysis buffer to cell numbers or blood volume must be optimized (10 to 40 parts buffer to sample), and the time (10 - 30 minutes) and temperature (RT or 2 - 8°C) of incubation must be carefully controlled for each lysis buffer and sample type.

What solutions can be used to lyse erythrocytes?

Optimal erythrocyte lysis can be achieved with buffers containing:
• Ammonium chloride (e.g. 0.17 M NH4CI, 10 mM Tris HCI, 0.25 mM EDTA),
• 1X ABC Lysis Buffer (eBioscience, San Diego, CA)
• VitaLyse® (BioE, St Paul, MN).
We do not recommend use of the following or any other solution that contains a fixative, as these will render the cells nonviable:
• CyLyse® (Partec GMBH, Munster, Germany),
• FACS™ Lysing solution (BD Biosciences, San Jose, CA.)

Can fixed cells be used with this assay?

No. The ALDEFLUOR™ reagent is a substrate for the enzyme aldehyde dehydrogenase. ALDEFLUOR™ is a viability marker since the substrate is taken up, catalyzed and retained only by viable cells. It is important to ensure that reagents used for erythrocyte lysis do not contain a fixative.

Does the ALDEFLUOR™ assay work on cryopreserved cells?

ALDEFLUOR™ has been extensively tested on fresh and cryopreserved umbilical cord blood, peripheral blood and leukapheresis samples from patients and mobilized donors. If done correctly, cryopreservation and thawing should not cause loss in cell viability or fluorescence intensity of ALDHbr cells. As only viable cells retain the ALDEFLUOR™ reaction product, a loss in viability will be reflected as a decrease in the percentage of ALDHbr cells and an increase in the percentage of dead/dying cells (detectable by staining for propidium iodide or other viability dyes).

Will ALDEFLUOR™ buffer prevent efflux in cells from non-hematopoietic tissues or from other species?

The proprietary ALDEFLUOR™ assay buffer has been designed to optimize the detection of ALDH-positive (or ALDHbr) cells in human blood. The buffer contains an ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transport inhibitor that prevents active efflux of the ALDEFLUOR™ product from these cells. This transport inhibitor may not prevent efflux from other tissue types or from other species. Consequently, when using samples other than human blood, following the incubation with the activated ALDEFLUOR™ reagent at 37°C, the reacted cells should be kept at 2 - 8°C to prevent efflux, and thus the loss of fluorescence. For a list of additional efflux inhibitors that may be added to the ALDEFLUOR™ buffer see the "CAN I ADD ANY OTHER EFFLUX INHIBITORS TO THE ALDEFLUOR™ ASSAY BUFFER?" question.

Will DEAB inhibit ALDH activity in cells from non-hematopoietic tissues or from other species?

The specific ALDH gene product expressed in non-human, non-blood products may not be inhibited by DEAB. A lack of difference between test and negative control samples may indicate that the inhibitor was not effective, or that there is no ALDH activity in the cells in the sample. Kinetic studies (a progressive increase in ALDEFLUOR™ fluorescence in the negative control tube with time of reaction) may be useful to differentiate these two alternatives. Other ALDH inhibitors can be used as appropriate for the enzyme isoform expressed. For example, Disulfuram inhibits several mammalian ALDH gene products.

Can I use a greater concentration of the ALDEFLUOR™ substrate to improve the discrimination of the ALDHbr population?

When staining non-blood products, it may be necessary to titrate the ALDEFLUOR™ substrate to determine the optimal concentration. We suggest a range of concentrations from 5-fold less to 10-fold more than the standard concentration. During titration we recommend maintaining the concentration of DEAB at 10-fold molar excess of activated ALDEFLUOR™ reagent, and therefore, it is necessary to adjust the amount of DEAB when titrating the substrate.

Can I analyze cells by the ALDEFLUOR™ assay and the side population assay simultaneously?

Yes, the side population assay can be performed in conjunction with the ALDEFLUOR™ assay (Pearce and Bonnet. Exp Hematol 35: 1437-1446, 2007). The Side Population assay should be performed first, followed by the ALDEFLUOR™ assay. We recommend adding 50 µM verapamil to the ALDEFLUOR™ assay buffer when performing both assays.

Why are all the cells in the cytogram fluorescent to some degree?

The ALDEFLUOR™ substrate is a non-polar fluorescent molecule that freely diffuses into all cells. In the DEAB-treated control, fluorescence will reflect the size of the intracellular substrate pool. Fluorescence in the test sample will additionally reflect ALDH activity. Human stem and progenitor cells typically have more ALDH activity than mature cells, and this quantitative difference allows stem cells to be resolved from the other cells.

How do I compensate for multiparameter flow analysis when the staining of ALDHbr cells is so bright?

We would recommend washing your cells with ALDEFLUOR™ assay buffer after the reagent reaction to eliminate background fluorescence from excess substrate. The ALDEFLUOR™ reagent shows an emission spectrum similar to FITC with peak emission at 512 nm. Due to spectral overlap of the ALDEFLUOR™ reagent with fluorochromes that are detected below 650 nm, we recommend using antibodies conjugated to fluorochromes that emit at higher wavelengths for antigens which typically exhibit low levels of expression. For example, when studying the coexpression of CD34 on ALDHbr cells we used the antibody combination, CD45 phycoerythrin (PE), 7- aminoactinomycin D (7-AAD) and CD34 allophycocyanin (APC). Due to the brightness of the ALDEFLUOR™ reagent fluorophore, we strongly recommend the use of compensation controls for every experiment. Adequate compensation will not be achieved with commercially available fluorescent beads.
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Data and Publications

Publications (77)

International journal of cancer. Journal international du cancer 2012 JAN Expression of aldehyde dehydrogenase and CD133 defines ovarian cancer stem cells. Kryczek I et al.


Identification of cancer stem cells is crucial for advancing cancer biology and therapy. Several markers including CD24, CD44, CD117, CD133, the G subfamily of ATP-binding cassette transporters (ABCG), epithelial specific antigen (ESA) and aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH) are used to identify and investigate human epithelial cancer stem cells in the literature. We have now systemically analyzed and compared the expression of these markers in fresh ovarian epithelial carcinomas. Although the expression levels of these markers were unexpectedly variable and partially overlapping in fresh ovarian cancer cells from different donors, we reliably detected important levels of CD133 and ALDH in the majority of fresh ovarian cancer. Furthermore, most of these stem cell markers including CD133 and ALDH were gradually lost following in vitro passage of primary tumor cells. However, the expression of ALDH and CD133, but not CD24, CD44 and CD117, could be partially rescued by the in vitro serum-free and sphere cultures and by the in vivo passage in the immune-deficient xenografts. ALDH+ and CD133+ cells formed three-dimensional spheres more efficiently than their negative counterparts. These sphere-forming cells expressed high levels of stem cell core gene transcripts and could be expanded and form additional spheres in long-term culture. ALDH+ , CD133+ and ALDH+ CD133+ cells from fresh tumors developed larger tumors more rapidly than their negative counterparts. This property was preserved in the xenografted tumors. Altogether, the data suggest that ALDH+ and CD133+ cells are enriched with ovarian cancer-initiating (stem) cells and that ALDH and CD133 may be widely used as reliable markers to investigate ovarian cancer stem cell biology.
Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950) 2011 MAY Hepatic stellate cells function as regulatory bystanders. Ichikawa S et al.


Regulatory T cells (Tregs) contribute significantly to the tolerogenic nature of the liver. The mechanisms, however, underlying liver-associated Treg induction are still elusive. We recently identified the vitamin A metabolite, retinoic acid (RA), as a key controller that promotes TGF-β-dependent Foxp3(+) Treg induction but inhibits TGF-β-driven Th17 differentiation. To investigate whether the RA producing hepatic stellate cells (HSC) are part of the liver tolerance mechanism, we investigated the ability of HSC to function as regulatory APC. Different from previous reports, we found that highly purified HSC did not express costimulatory molecules and only upregulated MHC class II after in vitro culture in the presence of exogenous IFN-γ. Consistent with an insufficient APC function, HSC failed to stimulate naive OT-II TCR transgenic CD4(+) T cells and only moderately stimulated α-galactosylceramide-primed invariant NKT cells. In contrast, HSC functioned as regulatory bystanders and promoted enhanced Foxp3 induction by OT-II TCR transgenic T cells primed by spleen dendritic cells, whereas they greatly inhibited the Th17 differentiation. Furthermore, the regulatory bystander capacity of the HSC was completely dependent on their ability to produce RA. Our data thus suggest that HSC can function as regulatory bystanders, and therefore, by promoting Tregs and suppressing Th17 differentiation, they might represent key players in the mechanism that drives liver-induced tolerance.
Cancer research 2011 MAR Activation of the aryl hydrocarbon receptor AhR Promotes retinoic acid-induced differentiation of myeloblastic leukemia cells by restricting expression of the stem cell transcription factor Oct4. Bunaciu RP and Yen A


Retinoic acid (RA) is used to treat leukemia and other cancers through its ability to promote cancer cell differentiation. Strategies to enhance the anticancer effects of RA could deepen and broaden its beneficial therapeutic applications. In this study, we describe a receptor cross-talk system that addresses this issue. RA effects are mediated by RAR/RXR receptors that we show are modified by interactions with the aryl hydrocarbon receptor (AhR), a protein functioning both as a transcription factor and a ligand-dependent adaptor in an ubiquitin ligase complex. RAR/RXR and AhR pathways cross-talk at the levels of ligand-receptor and also receptor-promoter interactions. Here, we assessed the role of AhR during RA-induced differentiation and a hypothesized convergence at Oct4, a transcription factor believed to maintain stem cell characteristics. RA upregulated AhR and downregulated Oct4 during differentiation of HL-60 promyelocytic leukemia cells. AhR overexpression in stable transfectants downregulated Oct4 and also decreased ALDH1 activity, another stem cell-associated factor, enhancing RA-induced differentiation as indicated by cell differentiation markers associated with early (CD38 and CD11b) and late (neutrophilic respiratory burst) responses. AhR overexpression also increased levels of activated Raf1, which is known to help propel RA-induced differentiation. RNA interference-mediated knockdown of Oct4 enhanced RA-induced differentiation and G(0) cell-cycle arrest relative to parental cells. Consistent with the hypothesized importance of Oct4 downregulation for differentiation, parental cells rendered resistant to RA by biweekly high RA exposure displayed elevated Oct4 levels that failed to be downregulated. Together, our results suggested that therapeutic effects of RA-induced leukemia differentiation depend on AhR and its ability to downregulate the stem cell factor Oct4.
Journal of cellular and molecular medicine 2011 JAN Aldehyde dehydrogenase activity promotes survival of human muscle precursor cells. Jean E et al.


Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDH) are a family of enzymes that efficiently detoxify aldehydic products generated by reactive oxygen species and might therefore participate in cell survival. Because ALDH activity has been used to identify normal and malignant cells with stem cell properties, we asked whether human myogenic precursor cells (myoblasts) could be identified and isolated based on their levels of ALDH activity. Human muscle explant-derived cells were incubated with ALDEFLUOR, a fluorescent substrate for ALDH, and we determined by flow cytometry the level of enzyme activity. We found that ALDH activity positively correlated with the myoblast-CD56(+) fraction in those cells, but, we also observed heterogeneity of ALDH activity levels within CD56-purified myoblasts. Using lentiviral mediated expression of shRNA we demonstrated that ALDH activity was associated with expression of Aldh1a1 protein. Surprisingly, ALDH activity and Aldh1a1 expression levels were very low in mouse, rat, rabbit and non-human primate myoblasts. Using different approaches, from pharmacological inhibition of ALDH activity by diethylaminobenzaldehyde, an inhibitor of class I ALDH, to cell fractionation by flow cytometry using the ALDEFLUOR assay, we characterized human myoblasts expressing low or high levels of ALDH. We correlated high ALDH activity ex vivo to resistance to hydrogen peroxide (H(2) O(2) )-induced cytotoxic effect and in vivo to improved cell viability when human myoblasts were transplanted into host muscle of immune deficient scid mice. Therefore detection of ALDH activity, as a purification strategy, could allow non-toxic and efficient isolation of a fraction of human myoblasts resistant to cytotoxic damage.
Oncogene 2011 JAN The lymphovascular embolus of inflammatory breast cancer exhibits a Notch 3 addiction. Xiao Y et al.


Inflammatory breast carcinoma (IBC) is characterized by exaggerated lymphovascular invasion (LVI), recapitulated in our human xenograft, MARY-X. This model exhibited lymphovascular emboli in vivo and corresponding spheroids in vitro. Owing to the morphological and gene profile resemblance of these spheroids to embryonal blastocysts, we wondered whether they might exhibit embryonic stem cell signaling. Specifically we investigated Notch and observed selective Notch 3 activation by expression profiling, reverse transcriptase- and real-time PCR, western blot and immunofluorescence in vitro, and immunohistochemistry in vivo. Notch 3 intracellular domain (N3icd) and six target genes, HES-5, HEY-1, c-Myc, Deltex-1, NRARP and PBX1, markedly increased in MARY-X. In addition, a significant percentage of MARY-X cells expressed aldehyde dehydrogenase (ALDH), a stem cell marker. Only the ALDH(+) cells were capable of secondary spheroidgenesis, tumorigenicity and self-renewal. Inhibiting Notch 3 activation in vitro with γ-secretase inhibitors (GSIs) or small interfering RNA resulted in a downregulation of Notch target genes, including CD133, and an induction of caspase 3-mediated apoptosis. Transfection of N3icd but not Notch 1 intracellular domain into normal human mammary epithelial cells resulted in increased expression of Notch target genes and induction of spheroidgenesis. GSI in vivo resulted in inhibitory but diffusion-limited effects on Notch 3 signaling, resulting in xenograft growth reduction. The lymphovascular emboli of human IBC exhibited dual N3icd and ALDH1 immunoreactivities independently of molecular subtype. This Notch 3 addiction of lymphovascular emboli might be exploited in future therapeutic strategies.
Biochemical and biophysical research communications 2011 FEB Aldehyde dehydrogenase 1B1 (ALDH1B1) is a potential biomarker for human colon cancer. Chen Y et al.


Aldehyde dehydrogenases (ALDHs) belong to a superfamily of NAD(P)+-dependent enzymes, which catalyze the oxidation of endogenous and exogenous aldehydes to their corresponding acids. Increased expression and/or activity of ALDHs, particularly ALDH1A1, have been reported to occur in human cancers. It is proposed that the metabolic function of ALDH1A1 confers the stemness" properties to normal and cancer stem cells. Nevertheless�
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