The Relevance of Flow Cytometry for Biochemical Analysis


  • José-Enrique O'Connor,

  • Robert C. Callaghan,

  • Marta Escudero,

  • Guadalupe Herrera,

  • Alicia Martínez,

  • María-do-Céu Monteiro,

  • Hilario Montolíu


Flow cytometry (FCM) allows the simultaneous measurement of multiple fluorescences and light scatter induced by illumination of single cells or microscopic particles in suspension, as they flow rapidly through a sensing area. In some systems, individual cells or particles may be sorted according to the properties exhibited. By using appropriate fluorescent markers, FCM is unique in that multiple structural and functional parameters can be quantified simultaneously on a single-particle basis, whereas up to thousands of biological particles per second may be examined. FCM is increasingly used for basic, clinical, biotechnological, and environmental studies of biochemical relevance. In this critical review, we summarize the main advantages and limitations of FCM for biochemical studies and discuss briefly the most relevant parameters and analytical strategies. Graphical examples of the biological information provided by multiparametric FCM are presented. Also, this review contains specific sections on flow cytoenzymology, FCM analysis of isolated subcellular organelles, and cell-free FCM.