Considerations for point-of-care diagnostics: evaluation of acridine orange staining and postprocessing methods for a three-part leukocyte differential test

J Biomed Opt. 2017 Mar 1;22(3):35001. doi: 10.1117/1.JBO.22.3.035001.


There exists a broad range of techniques that can be used to classify and count white blood cells in a point-of-care (POC) three-part leukocyte differential test. Improvements in lenses, light sources, and cameras for image-based POC systems have renewed interest in acridine orange (AO) as a contrast agent, whereby subpopulations of leukocytes can be differentiated by colorimetric analysis of AO fluorescence emission. We evaluated the effect on test accuracy using different AO staining and postprocessing methods in the context of an image-based POC colorimetric cell classification scheme. Thirty blood specimens were measured for percent cell counts using our POC system and a conventional hematology analyzer for comparison. Controlling the AO concentration used during whole-blood staining, the incubation time with AO, and the colorimetric ratios among the three population of leukocytes yielded a percent deviation of 0.706%, ? 1.534 % , and ? 0.645 % for the lymphocytes, monocytes, and granulocytes, respectively. Overall, we demonstrated that a redshift in AO fluorescence was observed at elevated AO concentrations, which lead to reproducible inaccuracy of cell counts. This study demonstrates there is a need for a strict control of the AO staining and postprocessing methods to improve test accuracy in these POC systems.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Acridine Orange / metabolism*
  • Hematologic Tests / standards*
  • Leukocytes / cytology*
  • Point-of-Care Systems / standards
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Staining and Labeling / standards


  • Acridine Orange