Guidelines for Gating Flow Cytometry Data for Immunological Assays

  • Janet Staats
  • Anagha Divekar
  • J. Philip McCoyJr.
  • Holden T. MaeckerEmail author
Part of the Methods in Molecular Biology book series (MIMB, volume 2032)


“Gating” refers to the selection of successive subpopulations of cells for analysis in flow cytometry. It is usually performed manually, based on expert knowledge of cell characteristics. However, there can be considerable disagreement in how gates should be applied, even between individuals experienced in the field. While clinical software often automates gating, and some guidelines do exist (especially for clinical assays), there are no comprehensive guidelines across the various types of immunological assays performed using flow cytometry. Here we attempt to provide such guidelines, focused on the most general and pervasive types of gates, why they are important, and what recommendations can be made regarding their use. We do so through the display of example data, collected by academic, government, and industry representatives. These guidelines should be of value to both novice and experienced flow cytometrists analyzing a wide variety of immunological assays.

Key words

Flow cytometry Gating Analysis 



The authors thank the EQAPOL consortium and Jennifer Enzor for providing data and analysis examples, and the FOCIS Immunophenotyping Course participants for helpful suggestions and vetting of these guidelines.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet Staats
    • 1
  • Anagha Divekar
    • 2
  • J. Philip McCoyJr.
    • 3
  • Holden T. Maecker
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.Duke Immune Profiling CoreDuke University Medical CenterDurhamUSA
  2. 2.Department for Cellular AnalysisBiolegendSan DiegoUSA
  3. 3.FrederickUSA
  4. 4.Institute for Immunity, Transplantation, and InfectionStanford University School of MedicineStanfordUSA

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