Standardized high-dimensional spectral cytometry protocol and panels for whole blood immune phenotyping in clinical and translational studies

Cytometry A. 2024 Feb;105(2):124-138. doi: 10.1002/cyto.a.24801. Epub 2023 Oct 12.


Flow cytometry is the method of choice for immunophenotyping in the context of clinical, translational, and systems immunology studies. Among the latter, the Milieu Intérieur (MI) project aims at defining the boundaries of a healthy immune response to identify determinants of immune response variation. MI used immunophenotyping of a 1000 healthy donor cohort by flow cytometry as a principal outcome for immune variance at steady state. New generation spectral cytometers now enable high-dimensional immune cell characterization from small sample volumes. Therefore, for the MI 10-year follow up study, we have developed two high-dimensional spectral flow cytometry panels for deep characterization of innate and adaptive whole blood immune cells (35 and 34 fluorescent markers, respectively). We have standardized the protocol for sample handling, staining, acquisition, and data analysis. This approach enables the reproducible quantification of over 182 immune cell phenotypes at a single site. We have applied the protocol to discern minor differences between healthy and patient samples and validated its value for application in immunomonitoring studies. Our protocol is currently used for characterization of the impact of age and environmental factors on peripheral blood immune phenotypes of >400 donors from the initial MI cohort.

Keywords: PBMCs; high-dimensional cell phenotyping; immunomonitoring; spectral cytometry; systems immunology; whole blood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Flow Cytometry / methods
  • Follow-Up Studies*
  • Humans
  • Immunophenotyping
  • Phenotype