Cell Biochemistry Martinsried
Cytometry and Human Disease
Potential of Cytometry
Diseases are caused by biochemical changes in
cellular systems or organs. The analysis of such changes
should provide information on individual patient's disease
diagnosis, predictions on further disease
course as well as on the efficiencey of therapy.
The prediction of patient's future disease course as well as
the risk assessment for the occurrence of disease
are of high clinical interest. Practically it is, however,
in most instances impossible to make disease course predictions
by the biochemical analysis of body fluids as well as by other
clinical or histo- and cytopathological analyses. Statistical
disease prognosis can be derived at the most from such data. This
is useful e.g. for therapy development or healthcare planning but
of little value for the individual patient.
Some reasons for this unsatisfactory situation derive from
the fact that the mostly performed humoral
biochemistry measurements e.g. in clinical chemistry, reflect
cell biochemical disease processes only indirectly
through changes in concentration or function of cell derived
biomolecules. Disease relevant biomelecules may, however,
not appear outside cells, they may be metabolically
altered or remain undetectable due to high
dilution in the body's fluid compartments or to fast
The results of biochemical measurements on organ tissue
preparations of biopsy material as an alternative for
humoral measurements are difficult to interpret because organs
contain a variety of discrete cell types whith potentially
different reactivities during disease processes.
The important advantage of flow and image
cytometry for predictive medicine consists
in the combination of microscopic single cell observation
with simultaneous multiparameter biochemical cell analysis
at the very spot of disease action.
2. Potential of Cytometry
Patterns of various biomolecules can be reliably quantitated by cytometric
analysis of viable or fixed cells following staining with biochemically
specific fluorescent dyes. The particular effort of this laboratory
consists in the development of specific stains for
in viable cells as sensitive indicators of the altered cellular
metabolism in acute or chronic disease. The simultaneous
multiparameter data collection by the cytometer provides high amounts
of functional and structural information on
heterogeneous i.e. essentially unprocessed ex-vivo cell suspensions
shortly after removal from the human body.
The cellular heterogeneity of human samples offers important
advantages for clinical and experimental
because cytometry takes advantage of the high information
content of simultaneously collected multiparameter data from a great
variety of different cell types. The cytometric strategy is
explicitely to measure as much heterogeneity as possible to
profit during evaluation from the high information content of
biocomplexity. The cytometric approach is therefore quite
different from the tissue biochemistry approach which
appreciates as much homogeneity as possible for unambiguous
3. Individual Patient Disease Course Predictions by Standardized Multiparameter Data Classification (SMDC)
The exhaustive extraction of information from cytometric or clinical
chemistry multiparameter measurements by a laboratory and instrument
independent, self learning and
data classification algorithm, developed
provides single patient predictive as well as
diagnostic disease evaluation with unprecedented accuracy.
from several different medical disciplines underline this point.
Predictive Medicine by cytometry represents Evidence Based Medicine
(EBM) at a cellular level.
The practical consequence of this approach is that complications
in a number of common diseases like severe infections, shock,
exacerbation of rheumatoid and asthmatic disease,
thromboembolic complications in diabetes, myocardial infarction
and stroke sensitive patients or survival in cancer patients
may become predictable at the individual patient level by
combined multiparameter cytometry and
Standardized Multiparameter Data Classification (SMDC).
Minor interventions like cytometry supervised short term
antiphlogistic therapy e.g. just prior to an imminent exacerbation of
rheumatoid disease may prevent severe tissue destruction leading otherwise
to the stepwise disabling of the patient by deficient repair processes.
The cell biochemical approach has in this case the potential to
significantly postpone the invalidization of patients. The higher
quality of patients's life would be paralleled by shorter disease periods
at substantially lower therapy costs and chances for the development
of unwanted therapeutic side effects (Optimized Medicine).
For problems or comments, please contact:
Max-Planck-Institut für Biochemie,
Am Klopferspitz 18a, D-82152 Martinsried, Germany,
Tel: +49/89/8578-2518, -2525, Fax: +49/89/8578-2563,
Last Update: Feb.18,2000