Plasma membrane changes are the first feature of apoptosis detected in living cells. Apoptosis can be verified by detecting the presence of phosphatidylserine (PS), which is usually located on the cytoplasmic surface of the plasma membrane. Annexin A5 (or annexin V) is a member of a calcium and phospholipid binding family of proteins with vascular anticoagulant activity. Annexin V is used as a non-quantitative probe to detect apoptosis as well as other forms of cell death.  In the process of cell apoptosis, PS is transferred to the outer layer of the plasma membrane and binds with the fluorescently labeled annexin V (containing calcium), which can be detected by flow cytometry and cell imager.

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