Optimized density gradient separation of leukocyte fractions from whole blood by adjustment of osmolarity

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Some of the compounds used for density gradient separation of blood cells have high osmolarities at the concentrations needed to create the required specific densities. Several mixed media use a combination of hyperosmolar shrinkage and red cell aggregation to improve cell separation. Due to the characteristics of Percoll density gradient medium the density and osmolarity of the gradient can be controlled separately. In the present study, Percoll gradients were used to determine the buoyant densities of different human blood cells at the osmolarities 300 mosM, 350 mosM and 400 mosM. Cell volumes were measured at the same osmolarities using a Coulter counter with channelyzer. As expected, the cell buoyant densities increased and the cell volumes decreased at the higher osmolarities used. There were, however, quantitative differences between the cells with respect to the effects of an increased osmolarity, making a 350 mosM density gradient the most effective in separating mononuclear leukocytes from polymorphonuclear leukocytes. A 400 mosM gradient offered the best possibilities to separate red blood cells from polymorphonuclear leukocytes. A one-step centrifugation procedure, based on these principles, is presented. This procedure makes possible the simultaneous purification of mononuclear leukocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes, suitable for functional assays.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-191
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1986

Bibliographical note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015.
The record was previously connected to the following departments: Bioimplant Research (013242910)

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Immunology in the medical area


  • Density gradient
  • PVP silica
  • Buoyant density
  • Leukocyte separation
  • Osmolarity


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