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 >40 parameters) to be run simultaneously with minimal cross channel signal spillover.

  • Specifications

    Manufacturer: Fluidigm  Channels: 135  

    Mass range: 75 –209 amu  

    Cell throughput: 500-600 events/sec (typical), 1,000 events/sec (maximum)  

    Sample introduction: Pressurized sample block (1.5mL or 5mL tubes), or 96 well plate autosampler

  • Access

    This instrument is booked on an hourly basis.

    The Helios is currently run by the platform support officer.

    For new users to this instrument, please contact Andrew 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 Andrew for protocols and to discuss sample preparation.

  • Additional resources

    Fluidigm mass cytometry website:

    Stanford mass cytometry discussion forum: