Laboratories across the world use cytocentrifugation to present cells for microscopic analysis while maintaining their morphology. Here, Epredia gives a brief history of the Cytospin and the use of cytology samples to detect respiratory viruses.
Prior to the 1960s, scientists who wanted to examine cells in bodily fluids typically used a haemocytometer, a chamber designed for counting cells microscopically. This technique had a number of limitations including poor discrimination between cell types (mononuclear or polymorphonuclear classification only), the low number of cells present in certain body fluids, and no possibility to produce a permanent record of the specimen. A standard centrifuge could be used to concentrate the specimen, but this required a large volume of fluid and was often a laborious process due to the need for repeated centrifugation runs until an adequate concentration of cells was available for transferring to a microscope slide.
The cytocentrifuge was first described in a paper by Watson in 1966, defining it as “an apparatus for concentrating cells in suspension onto a microscope slide”.1 The principle of cytocentrifugation is relatively simple – small aliquots of the fluid specimen to be investigated are spun laterally onto a microscope slide, constructively flattening cells for excellent nuclear presentation. The cells can be then fixed, stained and examined under a microscope or, in more recent times, scanned for digital viewing.
In 1967, Shandon (now Epredia) developed a purpose-designed cytocentrifuge device for the preparation of microscopic specimens from cell suspensions, and the first Cytospin was launched. Since then the Cytospin has been a mainstay in clinical and research laboratories, becoming synonymous with cytocentrifugation, and is used in tens of thousands of laboratories worldwide. Now on the fourth model, the instrument has been providing laboratories with an economical solution for preparing thin-layer preparations from fluid samples for over five decades.
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