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J Immunol Methods. 2006 Mar 20;310(1-2):67-77. Epub 2006 Jan 13.

A novel flow-cytometry-based assay for quantification of affinity and avidity changes of integrins.

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Institute for Immunology, Ruprecht-Karls-University, Heidelberg, Germany.


Cell adhesion plays an important role in cell-cell contact formation and cell migration. Thus, the assessment of cellular adhesiveness is one important feature when studying cell-mediated immune responses. The interaction of lymphocytes with other cell types such as antigen-presenting cells or vascular-endothelial cells occurs via adhesion molecules including L-selectin, VCAM-1 or ICAM-1. There are principally two mechanisms by which cell adhesion can be enhanced: namely changes in the affinity or avidity of receptor interactions. Conventional plate-based adhesion assays detect both forms. However, they do not permit discrimination between affinity- and avidity-mediated changes in the adhesiveness. Moreover, analysis of cell subpopulations requires cell separation prior to performance of the adhesion assay. Conventional flow-cytometry-based tests make it possible to determine changes in the affinity of integrins at the single cell level. However, they fail to quantify avidity-mediated adhesiveness. Here we describe a novel flow-cytometry-based assay, which allows the detection of both integrin-mediated affinity as well as avidity changes at the single cell level. This opens up the possibility of precisely characterizing the adhesive capacity of subpopulations in heterogeneous cell populations.

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