Flow cytometry analysis of murine hematopoietic stem cells

Cytometry A. 2013 Jan;83(1):27-37. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.22093. Epub 2012 Jun 26.


Hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) remain the most well-characterized adult stem cell population both in terms of markers for purification and assays to assess functional potential. However, despite over 40 years of research, working with HSCs in the mouse remains challenging because of the relative abundance (or lack thereof) of these cells in the bone marrow. The frequency of HSCs in murine bone marrow is about 0.01% of total nucleated cells and ∼5,000 can be isolated from an individual mouse depending on the age, sex, and strain of mice as well as purification scheme utilized. Adding to the challenge is the continual reporting of new markers for HSC purification, which makes it difficult for the uninitiated in the field to know which purification strategies yield the highest proportion of long-term, multilineage HSCs. In this updated version of our review from 2009, we review different strategies for hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell identification and purification. We will also discuss methods for rapid flow cytometric analysis of peripheral blood cell types, and novel strategies for working with rare cell populations such as HSCs in the analysis of cell cycle status by BrdU, Ki-67, and Pyronin Y staining. The purpose of updating this review is to provide insight into some of the recent experimental and technical advances in mouse hematopoietic stem cell biology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Bone Marrow Cells / cytology*
  • Cell Cycle
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Coloring Agents
  • Flow Cytometry / methods*
  • Hematopoietic Stem Cells / cytology*
  • Humans
  • Mice


  • Coloring Agents