Mass cytometry: a powerful tool for dissecting the immune landscape

Simoni, Y., Chng, M.H.Y., Li, S. et al.

Advancement in methodologies for single cell analysis has historically been a major driver of progress in immunology. Currently, high dimensional flow cytometry, mass cytometry and various forms of single cell sequencing-based analysis methods are being widely adopted to expose the staggering heterogeneity of immune cells in many contexts. Here, we focus on mass cytometry, a form of flow cytometry that allows for simultaneous interrogation of more than 40 different marker molecules, including cytokines and transcription factors, without the need for spectral compensation. We argue that mass cytometry occupies an important niche within the landscape of single-cell analysis platforms that enables the efficient and in-depth study of diverse immune cell subsets with an ability to zoom-in on myeloid and lymphoid compartments in various tissues in health and disease. We further discuss the unique features of mass cytometry that are favorable for combining multiplex peptide-MHC multimer technology and phenotypic characterization of antigen specific T cells. By referring to recent studies revealing the complexities of tumor immune infiltrates, we highlight the particular importance of this technology for studying cancer in the context of cancer immunotherapy. Finally, we provide thoughts on current technical limitations and how we imagine these being overcome.


Simoni, Y., Chng, M.H.Y., Li, S. et al. "Mass cytometry: a powerful tool for dissecting the immune landscape" Current Opinion in Immunology (2018): 187–96