Flow cytometry is a highly sensitive and specific method for simultaneous analysis of multiple parameters of individual cells in a suspension. It has a range of applications in veterinary medicine, and it is increasingly used in veterinary oncology as more species-specific antibodies are generated and cross-reactivity of antibodies is characterized. Two major applications in veterinary oncology are (1) immunophenotyping with a panel of fluorescently labeled antibodies to assess expression of cell markers and (2) determination of the DNA content of cells with fluorescent dyes that bind nucleic acids. The diagnostic and prognostic value of classifying round cell tumors of animals-especially, lymphocyte proliferations-remains to be fully determined, but studies to date have indicated benefit to patient management. Similarly, determining the proliferating fraction of tumors through DNA analysis remains to be standardized and validated in veterinary oncology but shows promise as an adjunct to morphologic tumor classification. This article reviews technical aspects of flow cytometry, availability of antibodies suitable for studies in domestic animals, and applications in veterinary oncology with emphasis on characterization of round cell tumors.
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