Mass cytometry

Uniquely combining time-of-flight mass spectrometry and metal-labelling technology, mass cytometry allows single cell resolution within complex biological systems.

The Helios mass cytometer quantifies cell-associated heavy metals using inductively-coupled plasma mass spectrometry. Like traditional fluorescence-based flow cytometry, mass cytometry allows multiple cellular parameters to be measured simultaneously. However, in contrast to flow cytometry, mass cytometry allows very highly parametric experiments (typically >50 parameters) to be run simultaneously with minimal cross channel signal spillover.


  • Manufacturer: Fluidigm
  • Channels: 135
  • Mass range: 75 –209 amu
  • Cell throughput: 200-400 events/sec (typical), 500 events/sec (maximum)
  • Sample introduction: Pressurized sample block (1.5mL or 5mL tubes)


For new users to this instrument, please contact Tian Zheng or Darryl Johnson to arrange access.

Sample preparation

Sample preparation is similar to flow cytometry but there are some important differences. In particular, care must be taken to avoid environmental heavy metal contamination. Cells must also be fixed and counterstained with a metal conjugated intercalator. Please contact Darryl Johnson for protocols and to discuss sample preparation.

A range of ancillary reagents, including metal labeling kits and human and mouse immunophenotyping panels, are available for trial or small-scale experiments.

Additional resources