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J Immunol Methods. 2008 Jul 31;336(2):183-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2008.04.013. Epub 2008 May 16.

Polychromatic flow cytometric high-throughput assay to analyze the innate immune response to Toll-like receptor stimulation.

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Department of Immunology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, United States.


Polychromatic flow cytometry allows the capture of multidimensional data, providing the technical tool to assess complex immune responses. Interrogation of the adaptive T cell response to infection or vaccination already has benefited greatly from standardized protocols for polychromatic flow cytometric analysis. The innate immune system plays an important role in health and disease, and presents potentially important therapeutic and diagnostic modalities. We describe here a high-throughput polychromatic flow cytometry-based platform that enables the rapid interrogation and large scale screening of human blood antigen presenting cell responses to Toll-like receptor (TLR) ligands and other innate immune modulators. Using this assay, we found that for certain stimuli (e.g., TLR9 and TLR3 ligands), the general protocol for intracellular cytokine cytometry had to be significantly modified to allow response detection. Furthermore, high concentrations of TLR7/8 and TLR4 stimuli caused substantial changes in lineage markers, potentially confounding analysis if one were to use a conventional "lineage-negative" cocktail. The assay we developed is reproducible and has been used to show that a given individual's TLR response pattern is relatively stable over at least several months. This protocol is in strict compliance with published guidelines for polychromatic flow cytometry, provides a common platform for scientists to compare their results directly, and may be applicable to the diagnostic evaluation of Toll-like receptor function and the rapid screening of promising therapeutic innate immune modulators.

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