Basophils were purified from peripheral blood of normal donors using Percoll discontinuous gradients and negative selection by flow cytometry. The mean purity of basophils obtained was 84.77±4.1 (s.d.)% (range 77.3–90.0%, n= 13). The overall yield of these procedures was 16.0±2.6% (range 11.0–19.9%, n= 13), and cell viability of purified basophils exceeded 90%.
Properties of highly purified basophils obtained by flow cytometry did not differ from those of partially enriched basophil preparations from Percoll discontinuous gradients in respect of: (i) intracellular histamine content; (ii) percentage of spontaneous histamine release in buffer; and (iii) percentage of histamine release triggered by ionophore A 23187 or anti-IgE. Moreover, purified basophils responded chemotactically to complement C5a in a dose-dependent manner. These findings suggest that our procedure for purification of human basophils does not affect the functions of basophils and may be useful for in vitro studies on the role of basophils in hypersensitivity reactions such as bronchial asthma.