Immunophenotyping is a process that detects the antigens or markers found on the surface of leukaemia cells. Particular types of leukaemia can be recognised by the markers on the patients’ leukaemia cells.

Immunophenotyping involves developing antibodies to the markers on the leukaemia cells and tagging them with fluorescent markers in the laboratory. When mixed with the patient’s blood sample, the antibodies attach themselves to the markers on the leukaemia cells.

A flow cytometer can rapidly measure the number and size of the leukaemia cells as a proportion of normal cells. The flow cytometry process analyses the physical and chemical characteristics of particles in a fluid as it passes through a laser.

Immunophenotyping involves analysing of the cluster of differentiation (CD) proteins on the leukaemia cells of patients with AML. CD34 and CD117 protein markers which are typical markers of immature leukaemia cells.

Additionally, CD13 and CD33 protein markers are often seen on the surface of the leukaemia cells in AML (Bain and Bene 2019). CD33 markers are involved in cell signalling and cell growth. CD13 is a protein marker involved in establishing new blood vessels.