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Cytometry. 1999 Apr 1;35(4):291-301.

A new multiparameter flow cytometer: optical and electrical cell analysis in combination with video microscopy in flow.

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Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie, Martinsried, Germany.



Flow cytometers, which are commercially available, do not necessarily meet all demands of actual biomedical research. This is the case for the investigation of mechanisms involved in cell volume regulation, which requires electrical volume measurement and ratiometric multichannel fluorescence analysis for the simultaneous assessment of different physiologic parameters (intracellular pH and the intracellular concentration of calcium ions, etc).


We describe the construction of a new nonsorting flow cytometer designed for the simultaneous acquisition of seven parameters including fluorescence signals, forward and perpendicular light scatter, cell volume according to the electrical Coulter principle, and flow cytometric imaging. The instrument is equipped with three different light sources. A tunable argon-ion laser generates efficient excitation of the most standard fluorescent probes in the visible spectral range, and an arc lamp provides the means for ultraviolet excitation at low cost. Because of the spatial filtering by the excitation and detection optics, two independent sets of dual fluorescence measurements can be performed, a prerequisite for flexible ratiometric fluorescence analysis. A flow video microscope integrated into the optical system optionally generates either brightfield or phase images of selected flowing particles. Only particles whose individual datasets meet predefined gating conditions are imaged in real time. To avoid smear effects, the motion of the object to be imaged (speed approximately 8 m/s) is frozen on the target of a CCD camera by flash illumination. For this purpose, a high radiance gas discharge lamp with 25-mJ electric pulse energy provides an illumination time of 18 ns (full width half maximum). Test results obtained from latex spheres and cells are shown.


Test results indicate that our instrument can perform Coulter measurements in combination with flexible optical analysis. Moreover, integration of an adapted video microscope into a flow cytometer is an approach to overcome the gap between flow and image cytometry.

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