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Polychromatic flow cytometry in the clinical laboratory


SUMMARY: Technological advances in flow cytometry include increasingly sophisticated instruments and an expanding range of fluorochromes. These advances are making it possible to detect an increasing number of markers on a single cell. The term polychromatic flow cytometry applies to such systems that detect five or more markers simultaneously. This review provides an overview of the current and future impact of polychromatic flow cytometry in the clinical laboratory. The use of multiple markers has several advantages in the diagnosis and monitoring of haematological malignancies. Cell populations can be analysed more comprehensively and efficiently, and abnormal populations can be distinguished more readily when normal counterparts are present. Polychromatic flow cytometry is particularly useful in the evaluation of plasma cells, and the role of flow cytometry in the assessment of plasma cell disorders is reviewed in depth. There is improved sensitivity in the assessment of small populations, which is critical in the evaluation of minimal residual disease. Flow cytometry can also play a role in assessment of circulating tumour cells in carcinoma. Introduction of polychromatic flow cytometry is a complex process with many challenges including design of antibody panels and instrument compensation. Developments in data analysis are required to realise the full benefits of the other technical advances. Standardisation of protocols may reduce inter-laboratory variation. While the complexity of polychromatic flow cytometry creates challenges, it has substantial potential to improve clinical analysis.

Type Journal
Authors Sewell, W. A.; Smith, S. A.
Responsible Garvan Author Prof Bill Sewell
Publisher Name PATHOLOGY
Published Date 2011-09-02
Published Volume 43
Published Issue 6
Published Pages 580-91
Status Published in-print
DOI 10.1097/PAT.0b013e32834a69ae
URL link to publisher's version
OpenAccess link to author's accepted manuscript version