What is Flow Cytometry?
Flow cytometry uses fluorescent probes to identify and characterize cells or particles in suspension (e.g. cells, nuclei or chromosomes) by virtue of size, granularity and fluorescence (auto-fluorescence or fluorescence after immunolabelling or staining). Cells or particles tagged with fluorescent molecules enter the flow cytometer via a fluid stream. The cells then pass by a laser, which emits a specific wavelength of light. The fluorescent probes are excited by the laser and then emit light. The fluorescent signal is detected and amplified, then translated into an electronic signal, which is sent to the computer. The result is a visual presentation describing an individual or group of cellular events. The cells or particles can be separated by sorting, or the information can be collected and analyzed.
Advances in cell sorting instrumentation have enabled this technology to be applied to a wider array of cell biology areas, such as hematology, immunology, microbiology, cellular signaling, and parasitology.