Primary immunodeficiencies (PIDs) are a heterogeneous group of inherited diseases of the immune system. The definite diagnosis of PID is ascertained by genetic analysis; however, this takes time and is costly. Flow cytometry provides a rapid and highly sensitive tool for diagnosis of PIDs. Flow cytometry can evaluate specific cell populations and subpopulations, cell surface, intracellular and intranuclear proteins, biologic effects associated with specific immune defects, and certain functional immune characteristics, each being useful for the diagnosis and evaluation of PIDs. Flow cytometry effectively identifies major forms of PIDs, including severe combined immunodeficiency, X-linked agammaglobulinemia, hyper IgM syndromes, Wiskott-Aldrich syndrome, X-linked lymphoproliferative syndrome, familial hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis, autoimmune lymphoproliferative syndrome, IPEX syndrome, CTLA 4 haploinsufficiency and LRBA deficiency, IRAK4 and MyD88 deficiencies, Mendelian susceptibility to mycobacterial disease, chronic mucocuneous candidiasis, and chronic granulomatous disease. While genetic analysis is the definitive approach to establish specific diagnoses of PIDs, flow cytometry provides a tool to effectively evaluate patients with PIDs at relatively low cost.
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