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Cytometry A. 2018 May;93(5):548-555. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.23372. Epub 2018 Apr 6.

Cryopreserved whole blood for the quantification of monocyte, T-cell and NK-cell subsets, and monocyte receptor expression by multi-color flow cytometry: A methodological study based on participants from the canadian longitudinal study on aging.

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Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence and Impact, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.
Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA), Hamilton, ON, Canada.


Immunophenotyping by multi-color flow cytometry is arguably the best tool to identify and quantify distinct cell lineages from the peripheral blood and other biological fluids/tissues. Effective in both clinical and research settings, it can be used to estimate the frequency of a given cell type or measure its phenotypic or functional properties. Normally, immunophenotyping is performed in fresh or fractionated blood (i.e., PBMCs) the same day, or within 24 hours of collection; however, this may not be feasible for all study designs. We have previously shown that cryopreserved blood, a biospecimen that is simple and inexpensive to prepare, is comparable to fresh blood for the enumeration of major leukocyte cell types. For the following study, we sought to extend these observations to distinct subsets of: monocytes (classical, intermediate, and non-classical), T-cells (CD4/CD8 naïve, central and effector memory, senescent, and terminally differentiated, and regulatory T-cells), and NK-cells (CD56 bright and dim); we also examined the expression of monocyte cell-surface receptors CX3CR1, CCR2, TLR2, and TLR4. Our results indicate that cryopreserved blood is comparable to fresh blood; with exception to relatively rare subsets and lowly expressed receptors, the absolute or relative frequency of cell subsets generally correlated >0.80 between blood types, while monocyte receptor expressed was mostly >0.70. Furthermore, the day-to-day coefficient of variation for most cell subsets and parameters was below 20%. Given these findings, we suggest that cryopreserved peripheral blood be given greater consideration for studies in which the quantification of distinct leukocyte subsets is required.


Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA); T-cells; blood; flow cytometry; immunophenotyping; monocytes; natural killer cells; regulatory T-cells


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