Multiparameter measurements in flow cytometry are limited by the broad emission spectra of fluorescent labels. By contrast, Raman spectra are notable for their narrow spectral features. To increase the multiparameter analysis capabilities of flow cytometry, we investigated the possibility of measuring Raman signals in a flow cytometry-based system. We constructed a Raman Spectral Flow Cytometer, substituting a spectrograph and CCD detector for the traditional mirrors, optical filters, and photomultiplier tubes. Excitation at 633 nm was provided by a HeNe laser, and forward-angle light scatter is used to trigger acquisition of complete spectra from individual particles. Microspheres were labeled with nanoparticle surface enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) tags and measured using the RSFC. Fluorescence and Raman spectra from labeled microspheres were acquired using the Raman Spectral Flow Cytometer. SERS spectral intensities were dependent on integration time, laser power, and detector pixel binning. Spectra from particles labeled with one each of four different SERS tags could be distinguished by either a virtual bandpass approach using commercial flow cytometry data analysis software or by principal component analysis. Raman flow cytometry opens up new possibilities for highly multiparameter and multiplexed measurements of cells and other particles using a simple optical design and a single detector and light source.
(c) 2008 International Society for Analytical Cytology