Abstract

A unique optical instrument is described which uses the firefly bioluminescent reaction to measure adenosine triphosphate (ATP) levels in single red blood cells. The method allows chemical content level to be associated with individual cell features. The optical instrument consists of a phase contrast microscope to view cells, a pulsed argon-ion laser to rupture the cell membrane, and a photon counting system to measure the bioluminescent yield. The technique has been calibrated against a standard ATP measurement using bulk analysis methods. The ATP loss mechanism for blood cells in a controlled depletion experiment was also investigated.

© 1979 Optical Society of America

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