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Keywords:

  • flow cytometry;
  • Gaussian mixture modeling;
  • immunophenotyping;
  • automated data analysis

Abstract

Flow Cytometry has become a mainstay technique for measuring fluorescent and physical attributes of single cells in a suspended mixture. These data are reduced during analysis using a manual or semiautomated process of gating. Despite the need to gate data for traditional analyses, it is well recognized that analyst-to-analyst variability can impact the dataset. Moreover, cells of interest can be inadvertently excluded from the gate, and relationships between collected variables may go unappreciated because they were not included in the original analysis plan. A multivariate non-gating technique was developed and implemented that accomplished the same goal as traditional gating while eliminating many weaknesses. The procedure was validated against traditional gating for analysis of circulating B cells in normal donors (n = 20) and persons with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (n = 42). The method recapitulated relationships in the dataset while providing for an automated and objective assessment of the data. Flow cytometry analyses are amenable to automated analytical techniques that are not predicated on discrete operator-generated gates. Such alternative approaches can remove subjectivity in data analysis, improve efficiency and may ultimately enable construction of large bioinformatics data systems for more sophisticated approaches to hypothesis testing. © 2008 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry