• residual cells;
  • plasma;
  • fluorescence cytometry


Increasing demand for quality control of blood products requires more sensitive methods to enumerate residual cells. Presently, the reported threshold (in cells per microliter) is 400 for red blood cells, 30–500 for platelets, and 1 for leukocytes. To examine precision and linearity in enumerating residual platelets and red blood cells, EDTA-anticoagulated blood from healthy donors was serially diluted with serum, stained in TruCount tubes using a no-lyse/no-wash procedure and a monoclonal antibody cocktail against the CD42a (FL1) and glycophorin-A (FL2) epitopes, and analyzed by flow cytometry. Leukocyte counts were determined in separate tubes. Cell preparation and analysis were performed once for 20 blood samples each and 20 times using the same specimen. Acquisition from the same tube was performed separately for platelets (threshold on FL1) and red blood cells (threshold on FL2). Multiparameter analysis was used for data evaluation. Linear results were obtained for platelets per microliter between 3,410 and 5 and for red blood cells per microliter between 54,000 and 3. For the lower cell concentrations, the coefficient of variation was 16.7% for platelets and 10.9% for red blood cells. The presented method allows the distinction between physiologically intact and ghost red blood cells. The method represents a reliable, sensitive, and accurate approach to quantify platelets and red blood cells in diluted blood. It can be applied to enumerate residual cells in plasma products and meets the increasing demand for quality control in blood components. Cytometry (Clin. Cytometry) 50:231–237, 2002. © 2002 Wiley-Liss, Inc.