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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Introduction to Flow Cytometry: Blood Cell Identification. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Acceptable Samples

Flow cytometry is used most often to analyze white blood cells, with the red blood cells in a sample removed by lysis.

Some appropriate samples types are:

  • Peripheral blood (anticoagulated)
  • Bone marrow (anticoagulated)
  • Lymph nodes and other tissues
  • Fluids (cerebrospinal fluid, peritoneal, pleural, etc.)
  • manually disaggregated tissue biopsy specimens

Since size and granularity measurements are utilized to help sort cell populations in flow cytometry, it is imperative to keep the cells intact. Thus, flow cytometry is best conducted on viable cells. Dead cells can complicate result interpretation by:

  • Non-specifically binding monoclonal antibodies and emitting false fluorescent signals.
  • Falling in inappropriate portions of the light scatter graph and falsely elevating event/cell counts.