Flow cytometry is a sophisticated instrument measuring multiple physical characteristics of a single cell such as size and granularity simultaneously as the cell flows in suspension through a measuring device. Its working depends on the light scattering features of the cells under investigation, which may be derived from dyes or monoclonal antibodies targeting either extracellular molecules located on the surface or intracellular molecules inside the cell. This approach makes flow cytometry a powerful tool for detailed analysis of complex populations in a short period of time. This review covers the general principles and selected applications of flow cytometry such as immunophenotyping of peripheral blood cells, analysis of apoptosis and detection of cytokines. Additionally, this report provides a basic understanding of flow cytometry technology essential for all users as well as the methods used to analyze and interpret the data. Moreover, recent progresses in flow cytometry have been discussed in order to give an opinion about the future importance of this technology.
Keywords: Apoptosis; cytokines; flow cytometer; fluorescence; fluorescent-activated cell sorting; histogram; immunophenotyping; light scatter.