Fluorescence is the emission of light by a substance that has absorbed light or other electromagnetic radiation. It is a form of luminescence. In most cases, the emitted light has a longer wavelength, and therefore lower energy, than the absorbed radiation. The most striking example of fluorescence occurs when the absorbed radiation is in the ultraviolet region of the spectrum, and thus invisible to the human eye, while the emitted light is in the visible region, which gives the fluorescent substance a distinct color that can only be seen when exposed to UV light. Fluorescent materials cease to glow nearly immediately when the radiation source stops, unlike phosphorescent materials, which continue to emit light for some time after.
Fluorescence has many practical applications, including mineralogy, gemology, medicine, chemical sensors (fluorescence spectroscopy), fluorescent labelling, dyes, biological detectors, cosmic-ray detection, and, most commonly, fluorescent lamps. Fluorescence also occurs frequently in nature in some minerals and in various biological states in many branches of the animal kingdom.
A direct application of Fluorescence in Hematology is the use of Thiazol orange, a fluorochrome that binds ribonucleic acid of RNA in order to count the Reticulocyte in whole blood.
Flow cytometric reticulocyte quantification with thiazol orange has been reported to be of real advantage in a clinical hematology laboratory. Flow cytometric analysis provided not only reproducible, cost-effective reticulocyte quantification, but a quantitative reticulocyte maturity index proportional to the amount of RNA in the reticulocytes. The reticulocyte maturity index measurement represents an independent parameter of erythropoiesis, which provided clinically valuable information regarding bone marrow engraftment in patients following autologous bone marrow transplantation.