Flow cytometric immunophenotyping of cancer cells in effusion specimens: diagnostic and research applications

Diagnostic Cytopathology. 2007 Sep;35(9):568-78. [Link]

Davidson B, Dong HP, Holth A, Berner A, Risberg B.

Pathology Clinic, Radiumhospitalet-Rikshospitalet Medical Center, University of Oslo, Montebello, Oslo, Norway.


Flow cytometry (FCM) immunophenotyping is frequently used as an ancillary technique for the diagnosis of hematological malignancies or for measurement of DNA content. In recent years, we applied FCM to the diagnosis of metastatic adenocarcinoma and malignant mesothelioma in effusions. We established a panel of antibodies that allows for rapid and effective differentiation between epithelial cells, mesothelial cells, and leukocytes. FCM was subsequently used for quantitative analysis of integrin subunits. Recently, we studied different parameters of the immune response, including HLA molecules and chemokine receptors, using this method. Our data suggest that FCM is an effective method for the characterization of cancer cells in clinical effusion specimens in both the diagnostic and research setting, and that this method is comparable to immunohistochemistry in terms of sensitivity and specificity, with the additional advantage of providing quantitative data. This review discusses previous work in this area and the future potential of this method in the characterization of tumor cells in serous effusions.

Keywords: flow cytometry, effusions, adenocarcinoma, mesothelioma, immunophenotyping