Application of six-color flow cytometry for the assessment of dendritic cell responses in whole blood assays

Silvia Della Bella, Stefania Giannelli, Adriano Taddeo, Pietro Presicce, Maria Luisa Villa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Analysis of peripheral blood dendritic cells (PBDCs) is increasingly reaching clinical relevance in a wide range of pathologies, in which investigating the capacity of DC subsets to respond adequately to specific stimuli may aid the comprehension of underlying immunopathologic mechanisms. The evaluation of PBDC responses directly challenged in whole blood (WB) samples offers many advantages over other methods that require DC isolation and culture, but it is limited in multiparametric analysis, currently based on 3- or 4-color assays. Therefore, in this study we developed a 6-color assay dedicated to the analysis of PBDC responses upon WB stimulation. We incubated WB samples with ligands to toll-like receptors (TLRs) with a clear-cut distribution on myeloid DCs (mDCs) or plasmacytoid (pDCs) and analyzed DC responses in terms of upregulation of activation/maturation markers, as well as production of a wide range of regulatory cytokines. Four colors were used to gate on mDCs and pDCs that were identified as lineage-/HLA-DR+/CD11c+ and lineage-/HLA-DR+/CD123+, respectively, and two further colors were used to analyze either the surface expression of CD80, CD86, CD40 or CD83, or the intracellular accumulation of IL-12, tumor-necrosis factor (TNF)-α, interferon (IFN)-α, IL-6, IL-10 or IL-4. With this method, we could directly compare in the same flow cytometric tube the responses of mDCs and pDCs to TLR stimulation, and investigate the reciprocal coexpression of distinct activation markers or regulatory cytokines. We suggest that the 6-color WB assay presented here may represent a novel tool for investigating the complex biology of DCs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)153-164
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2008


  • Intracellular cytokines
  • Multiparametric flow cytometry
  • Myeloid dendritic cells
  • Peripheral blood dendritic cells
  • Plasmacytoid dendritic cells
  • Toll-like receptors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


Dive into the research topics of 'Application of six-color flow cytometry for the assessment of dendritic cell responses in whole blood assays'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this