Immuno-analysis of microparticles: Probing at the limits of detection

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Scientific Reports, 2015, 5
Issue Date:
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Microparticle (MP) research is clouded by debate regarding the accuracy and validity of flow cytometry (FCM) as an analytical methodology, as it is influenced by many variables including the pre-analytical conditions, instruments physical capabilities and detection parameters. This study utilises a simplistic in vitro system for generating MP, and through comparative analysis with immuno-electron microscopy (Immuno-EM) assesses the strengths and limitations of probe selection and high-sensitivity FCM. Of the markers examined, MP were most specifically labelled with phosphatidylserine ligands, annexin V and lactadherin, although only ∼60% MP are PS positive. Whilst these two ligands detect comparable absolute MP numbers, they interact with the same population in distinct manners; annexin V binding is enhanced on TNF induced MP. CD105 and CD54 expression were, as expected, consistent and enhanced following TNF activation respectively. Their labelling however accounted for as few as 30-40% of MP. The greatest discrepancies between FCM and I-EM were observed in the population solely labelled for the surface antigen. These findings demonstrate that despite significant improvements in resolution, high-sensitivity FCM remains limited in detecting small-size MP expressing low antigen levels. This study highlights factors to consider when selecting endothelial MP probes, as well as interpreting and representing data.
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