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Cytometry. 1994 Jul 1;16(3):270-9.

Direct flow cytometry of anaerobic bacteria in human feces.

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Department of Medical Microbiology, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.


We describe a flow cytometry method for analysis of noncultured anaerobic bacteria present in human fecal suspensions. Nonbacterial fecal compounds, bacterial fragments, and large aggregates could be discriminated from bacteria by staining with propidium iodide (PI) and setting a discriminator on PI fluorescence and by exclusion of events with large forward scatter. Since anaerobic bacteria, which account for over 99.9% of all fecal bacteria, die during sample preparation, a fixation step was not necessary. A second aim of this study was to investigate the technical possibility of measurement of in vivo IgA coating of fecal anaerobic bacteria as well as their bacterial size. Fecal samples of 22 healthy human volunteers were analyzed. The fluorescence distribution of IgA-coated bacteria labeled with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-anti-Hu-IgA had overlap with noncoated bacteria. However, with match region subtraction, detection of low levels of specific FITC fluorescence on IgA-coated bacteria was achieved. The median bacterial two-dimensional surface area was 1.0 microns2. To validate flow cytometry data, all samples were analyzed with an image analysis system as well. With this new method, a rapid evaluation of fecal flora with high sensitivity for specific FITC fluorescence is possible without culturing.

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