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Cytometry. 1997 Dec 1;29(4):328-39.

8 color, 10-parameter flow cytometry to elucidate complex leukocyte heterogeneity.

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Department of Genetics, Stanford University, California, USA.


We developed the chemistry, instrumentation, and software technologies needed to measure, simultaneously and independently, eight different fluorescent molecules on individual cells. Conjugation of these fluorochromes to monoclonal antibodies is straightforward; all immunofluorescence staining is accomplished with direct stains only. We built a hybrid flow cytometer with eight fluorescence detectors and two light scatter channels, with excitation provided by three spatially separated laser beams emitting at 407 nm, 488 nm, and 595 nm. The fluorescence compensation required to make the data orthogonal is of sufficient complexity that it cannot be performed manually; thus, we use software to compensate the data post hoc, based on data collected from singly stained compensation control samples. In this report, we evaluate the 8 color staining technology. Of the seven fluorochromes other than fluorescein, six have a useful brightness at least as great as fluorescein. Three of the fluorochromes (phycoerythrin, allophycocyanin, and the Cy5 resonance energy tandem of phycoerythrin) are considerably brighter than fluorescein and are useful for detecting antigens expressed at low levels. Finally, we show the power and utility of the 8 color, 10-parameter technology using staining experiments on both human and murine immune systems.

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