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An evaluation of sorter induced cell stress (SICS) on peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) after different sort conditions - Are your sorted cells getting SICS?

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journal contribution
submitted on 2023-10-03, 12:02 and posted on 2023-10-03, 12:25 authored by Gerald Pfister, Salman M. Toor, Varun Sasidharan Nair, Eyad Elkord

Flow cytometry and fluorescence-activated cell sorting have become invaluable tools to analyze and isolate specific cell populations in a wide range of biomedical research and clinical applications. In countless approaches worldwide, scientists are using single cell analyses to better understand the significance and variation within different cellular populations, and fluorescence-activated cell sorting has become a major technique for cell isolation in both basic and clinical research. However, majority of available cell sorters are pressurized, droplet-based systems, which apply significant environmental pressure and shear stress to cells during sorting. Recently, the flow cytometry community has become increasingly aware about the potential negative effects this could have on sorted cells and the term “sorter induced cell stress” (SICS) has been proposed. However, up to date only a limited number of studies have investigated the effects of cell sorting on cell viability and function. Therefore, solid data on the effects of sheath pressure and nozzle size on survival and function of sorted cells are surprisingly rare. With this in mind, we sorted “CD4+” T-cells and “live” cells from human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) at different sort conditions and analyzed their quality before and after sorting in a series of assays. Here we present our findings in reference to cell viability and cell proliferation following sorting on different instruments (BD FACSAria III SORP and BD FACSJazz), utilizing different nozzle sizes (70 to 100 μm) and sheath pressure settings (20 to 70 psi). The results show no significant differences in cell viability and proliferation after the different tested sort conditions, but rather differences between individual experiments. These findings are evaluated and their potential significance in cell sorting experiments is discussed.

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Published in: Journal of Immunological Methods
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Open Access funding provided by the Qatar National Library



  • English


Elsevier BV

Publication Year

  • 2020

License statement

This Item is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

Institution affiliated with

  • Hamad Bin Khalifa University
  • Qatar Biomedical Research Institute - HBKU

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