Immunology Lab | The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Immunology Laboratory


The Immunology Laboratory of The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia offers an extensive assortment of both cellular and humoral immunological procedures.

Cellular assays include immunophenotyping of specific cell populations as well as assays for lymphocyte and phagocyte function. Immunophenotyping studies range from characterization of leukemia and lymphomas to the enumeration of T, B, and natural killer cells. Quantitation of these cell types is commonly used to evaluate patients with primary or secondary immunodeficiencies, those who have undergone bone marrow transplantation, and to monitor some solid organ transplant patients. These assays are performed by flow cytometry using several comprehensive panels of monoclonal antibodies including specific markers for lymphocytes, monocytes, and granulocytes. In addition, mitogen or antigen stimulated lymphocyte cultures are performed to measure lymphocyte function. Several assays are offered to assist in the diagnosis of primary and secondary deficiencies of phagocytes. The flow cytometry based DHR assay is used to evaluate the oxidative metabolism of phagocytes. An assay to measure chemotaxis (motility) is also available.

The Immunology Lab also offers a flow cytometry based test for Hereditary Spherocytosis (HS). In this assay, red blood cells (RBCs) are incubated with a dye, EMA, and the fluorescence is measured in comparison to a control. The RBCs from patients with HS, in addition to hereditary pyropoikilocytosis(HPP) and south east Asian ovalocytosis (SAO) show reduced fluorescence.

The Immunology lab also offers a variety of assays for evaluation of the humoral immune system. These include immunoglobulin quantitation (IgG, IgG subclasses, IgA, IgM, and IgE) and measurement of functional antibodies against Tetanus and Diphtheria. Complement (C3 and C4) quantitation and total complement activity (CH50) assays are also performed. Procedures offered for the evaluation of autoimmune diseases include anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA), anti-dsDNA antibodies, rheumatoid factor quantitation, anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) and detection of antibodies against extractable nuclear antigens (ENA - anti-Sm, anti-RNP, anti-SSA, and anti-SSB), anti-smooth muscle, anti-F-actin, and anti-liver/kidney microsomal antigen (anti-LKM1). Assays are also available to aid in the diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease and celiac disease. These currently include anti-Saccharomyces cerevisiae (ASCA) IgA & IgG, anti-Tissue transglutaminase (tTG) IgA, and anti-endomysial IgA antibodies. Lyme disease (ELISA and Western Blot) and syphilis serology testing is also performed in the Immunology Lab.

The Immunology Lab also offers tests to aid in the diagnosis of antiphospholipid syndrome (APS). APS is an autoimmune disorder in which autoantibodies are directed against phospholipid-protein complexes. APS is characterized by thrombosis and/or pregnancy complications. Most patients with antiphospholipid antibody syndrome have elevated levels of anticardiolipin antibodies or anti-beta-2 glycoprotein antibodies. The Immunology Lab offers both IgG and IgM anticardiolipin antibodies (ELISA) and IgG and IgM beta-2 glycoprotein antibodies (ELISA).

Location and Hours

Abramson Research Center, Room 714H

Hours of Operation

Monday – Friday, 7:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.
No holiday hours

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