Analysis of human chromosomes by imaging flow cytometry

Jason Stanley, Henry Hui, Wendy Erber, Britt Clynick, Kathy Fuller

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Web of Science)


Chromosomal analysis is traditionally performed by karyotyping on metaphase spreads, or by fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) on interphase cells or metaphase spreads. Flow cytometry was introduced as a new method to analyze chromosomes number (ploidy) and structure (telomere length) in the 1970s with data interpretation largely based on fluorescence intensity. This technology has had little uptake for human cytogenetic applications primarily due to analytical challenges. The introduction of imaging flow cytometry, with the addition of digital images to standard multi-parametric flow cytometry quantitative tools, has added a new dimension. The ability to visualize the chromosomes and FISH signals overcomes the inherent difficulties when the data is restricted to fluorescence intensity. This field is now moving forward with methods being developed to assess chromosome number and structure in whole cells (normal and malignant) in suspension. A recent advance has been the inclusion of immunophenotyping such that antigen expression can be used to identify specific cells of interest for specific chromosomes and their abnormalities. This capability has been illustrated in blood cancers, such as chronic lymphocytic leukemia and plasma cell myeloma. The high sensitivity and specificity achievable highlights the potential imaging flow cytometry has for cytogenomic applications (i.e., diagnosis and disease monitoring). This review introduces and describes the development, current status, and applications of imaging flow cytometry for chromosomal analysis of human chromosomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)541-553
Number of pages13
JournalCytometry Part B - Clinical Cytometry
Issue number5
Early online date25 May 2021
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2021


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