Flow cytometry-assisted quantification of cell cycle arrest in cancer cells treated with CDK4/6 inhibitors

Vanessa Klapp, Norma Bloy, Carlos Jiménez-Cortegana, Aitziber Buqué*, Giulia Petroni*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


Cyclin-dependent kinase 4 (CDK4) and CDK6 inhibitors (i.e., palbociclib, abemaciclib, and ribociclib) are well known for their capacity to mediate cytostatic effects by promoting cell cycle arrest in the G1 phase, thus inhibiting cancer cell proliferation. Cytostatic effects induced by CDK4/6 inhibitors can be transient or lead to a permanent state of cell cycle arrest, commonly defined as cellular senescence. Induction of senescence is often associated to metabolic modifications and to the acquisition of a senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) by cancer cells, which in turn can promote or limit antitumor immunity (and thus the efficacy of CDK4/6 inhibitors) depending on SASP components. Thus, although accumulating evidence suggests that anti-cancer effects of CDK4/6 inhibitors also depend on the promotion of antitumor immune responses, assessing cell cycle arrest and progression in cells treated with palbociclib remains a key approach for investigating the efficacy of CDK4/6 inhibitors. Here, we describe a method to assess cell cycle distribution simultaneously with active DNA replication by flow cytometry in cultured hormone receptor-positive breast cancer MCF7 cells.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-212
JournalMethods in Cell Biology
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jan 2024


  • BrdU
  • Cellular senescence
  • MCF7
  • Palbociclib
  • Propidium iodide
  • Regulated cell death


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