Single platform flow cytometric absolute CD34+ cell counts based on the ISHAGE guidelines



In concert with the International Society of Hematotherapy and Graft Engineering (ISHAGE), we previously described a set of guidelines for detection of CD34+ cells based on a four-parameter flow cytometry method (CD45 FITC/CD34 PE staining, side and forward angle light scatter). With this procedure, an absolute CD34+ count is generated by incorporating the leukocyte count from an automated hematology analyser (two-platform method). In the present study, we modified the basic ISHAGE method with the addition of a known number of Flow-Count™ fluorospheres. To reduce errors inherent to sample washing/centrifugation, we implemented ammonium chloride lyse, no-wash no-fix sample processing. These modifications convert the basic protocol into a single-platform method to determine the absolute CD34 count directly from a flow cytometer and form the basis of the Stem-Kit from Coulter/Immunotech. A total of 72 samples of peripheral blood, apheresis packs, and cord blood were analysed and compared using the ISHAGE protocol with or without the addition of fluorescent microspheres. Comparison of methods showed a high correlation coefficient (r = 0.99), with no statistically significant difference or bias between methods (P > 0.05). Linearity of the absolute counting method generated an R2 value of 1.00 over the range of 0–250/μl. Precision of the absolute counting method measured at three concentrations of CD34+-stabilised KG1a cells (Stem-Trol, COULTER®) generated a coefficient of variation (C.V.) ranging from 4% to 9.9%. In a further modification of the single-platform method, the viability dye 7-amino actinomycin D was included and demonstrated that both viable and nonviable CD34+ cells could be identified and quantitated. Together, these modifications combine the accuracy and sensitivity of the original ISHAGE method with the ability to produce an absolute count of viable CD34+ cells. It is the accurate determination of this value that is most clinically relevant in the transplant setting. These modifications may improve the interlaboratory reproducibility of CD34 determinations due to the reduction in sample handling and calculation of results. Cytometry (Comm. Clin. Cytometry) 34:61–70, 1998. © 1998 Wiley-Liss, Inc.