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Immunology - Pediatrics and Child Health - Physiology - Public Health and Epidemiology - Respiratory Medicine

CFTR Expression Analysis in Human Nasal Epithelial Cells by Flow Cytometry
Published: Wednesday, December 07, 2011
Author: Marit A. van Meegen et al.

by Marit A. van Meegen, Suzanne W. J. Terheggen-Lagro, Cornelis K. van der Ent, Jeffrey M. Beekman


Unbiased approaches that study aberrant protein expression in primary airway epithelial cells at single cell level may profoundly improve diagnosis and understanding of airway diseases. We here present a flow cytometric procedure to study CFTR expression in human primary nasal epithelial cells from patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF). Our novel approach may be important in monitoring of therapeutic responses, and better understanding of CF disease at the molecular level.


Validation of a panel of CFTR-directed monoclonal antibodies for flow cytometry and CFTR expression analysis in nasal epithelial cells from healthy controls and CF patients.


We analyzed CFTR expression in primary nasal epithelial cells at single cell level using flow cytometry. Nasal cells were stained for pan-Cytokeratin, E cadherin, and CD45 (to discriminate epithelial cells and leukocytes) in combination with intracellular staining of CFTR. Healthy individuals and CF patients were compared.

Measurements and Main Results

We observed various cellular populations present in nasal brushings that expressed CFTR protein at different levels. Our data indicated that CF patients homozygous for F508del express varying levels of CFTR protein in nasal epithelial cells, although at a lower level than healthy controls.


CFTR protein is expressed in CF patients harboring F508del mutations but at lower levels than in healthy controls. Multicolor flow cytometry of nasal cells is a relatively simple procedure to analyze the composition of cellular subpopulations and protein expression at single cell level.