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J Immunol Methods. 2002 Feb 1;260(1-2):15-28.

Analysis of thymic stromal cell populations using flow cytometry.

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Department of Pathology and Immunology, Monash Medical School, Commercial Road, Prahran, 3181, Melbourne, Australia.


The complexity of the lymphostromal interplay that is essential to alphabetaT-cell development is reflected by the heterogeneity of both lymphocytes and thymic stromal cells. While panels of monoclonal antibodies have described many of the cellular components of these microenvironments, the means to quantify stromal cell subsets using flow cytometry remains poorly defined. This study refines and compares various stromal cell isolation procedures and determines the effects of various digestion enzymes on important surface molecules. Three- and four-color flow cytometry is used to correlate established and novel stromal cell markers to define thymic fibroblasts, epithelium and a unique subset of thymic endothelium that express MHC class II. This work provides a basis for the purification of thymic stromal cells for further phenotypic, functional and genetic analysis.

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