Mullins Molecular Retrovirology Lab

  • Department of Microbiology
  • School of Medicine
  • University of Washington
University of Washington/Fred Hutch Center for AIDS Research

Sputum Protocol

1 March 2002


  • DPBS: Dulbecco’s Phosphate Buffered Saline, calcium/magnesium free (BioWhittaker #17-515F)

  • DTT: Sputolysin (Calbiochem #560000, 20x 10ml). Dilute the contents of 1 vial to 100ml with sterile distilled water. Swirl gently to dissolve any crystals; filter if necessary. Diluted solutions, stored under N2, are stable for 48 hours at 2-8°C. After opening, vials with undiluted concentrate can be stored under N2at 2-8°C.


Process sputum within 2 hours of collection.

Keep sputum on ice until ready to process.

Select opaque/dense sputum portions that are different from saliva and free of squamous cell contamination for processing.

Weigh remaining sputum sample.

Add freshly prepared DTT equal to 2x weight of sputum portion.

Incubate 15 minutes at 37°C with frequent shaking.

Vortex every 5 minutes for 15 seconds.

Dilute with equal volume of DPBS.

Filter through 48 µm pore nylon gauze mesh filter.

Take sample for hemocytometer: obtain total cell count and viability.

Spin cells at 2000 rpm for 10 minutes (4°C).

Collect supernatant and store at -80°C.

Resuspend cell pellet in DPBS at 106cells/ml.

Make cytospins with 60,000 to 120,000 cells per slide.

Fix and stain (May-Grunwald Giemsa, Wright, and/or Romanowski stains).

Use remaining cells for culture assays.


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