A protocol for the comprehensive flow cytometric analysis of immune cells in normal and inflamed murine non-lymphoid tissues

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Abstract

© This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. Flow cytometry is used extensively to examine immune cells in non-lymphoid tissues. However, a method of flow cytometric analysis that is both comprehensive and widely applicable has not been described. We developed a protocol for the flow cytometric analysis of nonlymphoid tissues, including methods of tissue preparation, a 10-fluorochrome panel for cell staining, and a standardized gating strategy, that allows the simultaneous identification and quantification of all major immune cell types in a variety of normal and inflamed non-lymphoid tissues. We demonstrate that our basic protocol minimizes cell loss, reliably distinguishes macrophages from dendritic cells (DC), and identifies all major granulocytic and mononuclear phagocytic cell types. This protocol is able to accurately quantify 11 distinct immune cell types, including T cells, B cells, NK cells, neutrophils, eosinophils, inflammatory monocytes, resident monocytes, alveolar macrophages, resident/interstitial macrophages, CD11b-DC, and CD11b+ DC, in normal lung, heart, liver, kidney, intestine, skin, eyes, and mammary gland. We also characterized the expression patterns of several commonly used myeloid and macrophage markers. This basic protocol can be expanded to identify additional cell types such as mast cells, basophils, and plasmacytoid DC, or perform detailed phenotyping of specific cell types. In examining models of primary and metastatic mammary tumors, this protocol allowed the identification of several distinct tumor associated macrophage phenotypes, the appearance of which was highly specific to individual tumor cell lines. This protocol provides a valuable tool to examine immune cell repertoires and follow immune responses in a wide variety of tissues and experimental conditions.

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Yu, Y. R. A., O’Koren, E. G., Hotten, D. F., Kan, M. J., Kopin, D., Nelson, E. R., … Gunn, M. D. (2016). A protocol for the comprehensive flow cytometric analysis of immune cells in normal and inflamed murine non-lymphoid tissues. PLoS ONE, 11(3). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0150606

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