J Pediatr Infect Dis 2022; 17(01): 001-010
DOI: 10.1055/s-0041-1740954
Review Article

Role of Flow Cytometry in the Diagnosis of Inborn Errors of Immunity

1   Department of Hematology, Apollo Cancer Centre, Chennai, India
› Author Affiliations
Funding None.


Inborn errors of immunity (IEI) are a group of inherited heterogeneous disorders affecting the immune system characterized by increased susceptibility to infections, immune dysregulation, and lymphoproliferation. Flow cytometry (FCM) is a rapid and reliable technique for evaluation and enumeration of immune cells. It also helps in understanding the functional and signaling pathways of the immune system. Lymphocyte subset analysis is a simple and effective screening tool in suspected combined and humoral immunodeficiency patients. Qualitative phagocytic defects such as chronic granulomatous disease and leucocyte adhesion defect are easily diagnosed by FCM. Study of intracellular proteins (e.g., BTK, WASP, DOCK8), cytokine production, and signaling molecules (e.g., STAT3) by FCM is very useful but also quite challenging to establish. T and B lymphocyte interaction for normal class switching of B cells can be assessed and can help in diagnosis of combined variable immunodeficiency and hyperimmunoglobulin M syndrome. FCM is also used in posttransplant monitoring of IEI patients and also in prenatal diagnosis in suspected cases. It is also useful in validation of variants of uncertain significance obtained in exome sequencing. FCM results should always be interpreted with clinical history and, if needed, should be confirmed with molecular genetic studies before establishing the final diagnosis. Ensuring good sample quality and running parallel controls with patient samples will avoid the preanalytical and analytical errors. This review describes the applications of FCM in the diagnosis of various IEI.

Publication History

Received: 20 July 2021

Accepted: 27 November 2021

Article published online:
03 January 2022

© 2022. Thieme. All rights reserved.

Georg Thieme Verlag KG
Rüdigerstraße 14, 70469 Stuttgart, Germany