Choosing a Negative or Positive Selection Strategy

Negative Selection

With negative selection, unwanted cells are targeted for removal using antibodies directed to cell surface antigens. The combination of antibodies in the negative selection cocktail determines which cells will be removed. Negative selection may be preferred when:

  • Untouched cells are desired
  • Binding of an antibody to the desired cell may result in blocking or activation that affects downstream studies
  • A specific antibody to a cell of interest is unavailable
  • Elimination of a cell type(s) is desired

Positive Selection

With positive selection, the desired cells are targeted for selection using antibodies directed to a cell surface antigen. Positive selection may be preferred when:

  • High purities are required
  • Antibodies required for depleting unwanted cells are not available
  • The presence of a bound antibody is not a concern
  • Working with cells from atypical samples (for further information please see Tech Tip: Isolating Cells from Atypical Samples)
  • Allows for sequential separations of additional populations from the negative fraction

Related Resources

Isolation of CD4+ T cells

Evaluation Criteria for Cell Separation Methods

See which parameters to consider when choosing the right cell isolation method for your research.

View More Parameters >

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