Cytometry: today’s technology and tomorrow’s horizons

Chattopadhyay, P., Roederer, M.

Since the invention of flow cytometry in the 1960s, advances in the technology have come hand-in-hand with advances in the recognition and characterization of new leukocyte subsets. In the early years, with the advent of one- and two-color flow cytometers, major lymphocyte lineages comprising the cellular arm (T-cells) and the humoral arm (B-cells) were identified. Through the 1980s, the ability to perform three- and four-color flow cytometry experiments enabled the enumeration of cells expressing combinations of CD3, CD4, and CD8 from a single tube; this was a necessity driven by the clinical demands of the emerging HIV epidemic. The following decade saw continued development in multicolor technology and immunology, with the advent of polychromatic flow cytometry (detection of 5 or more markers simultaneously) enabling identification of naïve and memory T-cell subsets and detailed functional characterization of antigen-specific lymphocytes (such as measurement of multiple cytokine production from individual cells). Most recently, the new millennium brought 12–18 color technology and an unprecedented resolution to immune analysis (including the identification of regulatory T-cells, follicular helper T-cells, TH17 cells, and the ability to combine functional and phenotypic analyses). The ongoing development of flow cytometry technology has left its mark on the analysis of hematopoietic development, cell signaling networks, and leukemia/lymphoma diagnoses.


Chattopadhyay, P., Roederer, M. "Cytometry: today’s technology and tomorrow’s horizons" Methods (2012): 251–8