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Nat Protoc. 2012 Dec;7(12):2067-79. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2012.126. Epub 2012 Nov 8.

Quality assurance for polychromatic flow cytometry using a suite of calibration beads.

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Flow Cytometry Core Facility, Vaccine Research Center, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, MD, USA.


The quality assurance program presented here provides a means to maximize and maintain the performance of individual flow cytometers in a facility. To optimize performance, we recommend performing all three steps (optimization, calibration and standardization) in this program when a new flow cytometer is installed or whenever the flow cytometer's optical path is altered (e.g., lasers, filters or detectors are replaced). The complete process requires 3-4 h. On a more frequent basis, only a subset of these procedures need to be performed as a part of daily maintenance routines. The data generated can be tracked to monitor the instrument and determine whether service is needed. In addition, the data can provide a metric for whether repairs and upgrades have improved or harmed performance, and for future instrument-to-instrument comparisons. In sum, the procedures presented here represent an updated framework for optimizing, calibrating and standardizing a flow cytometer for daily use.

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