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Articles by Katharine A. Muirhead in JoVE

 JoVE Biology

Optimized Staining and Proliferation Modeling Methods for Cell Division Monitoring using Cell Tracking Dyes

1Department of Flow and Image Cytometry, Roswell Park Cancer Institute, 2Flow Cytometry & Cell Sorting Resource Laboratory, University of Pennsylvania, 3SciGro, Inc., 4Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania


JoVE 4287

Successful use of cell tracking dyes to monitor immune cell function and proliferation involves several critical steps. We describe methods for: 1) obtaining bright, uniform, reproducible label-ing with membrane dyes; 2) selecting fluorochromes and data acquisition conditions; and 3) choosing a model to quantify cell proliferation based on dye dilution.

Other articles by Katharine A. Muirhead on PubMed

Cell Tracking 2007: a Proliferation of Probes and Applications

The articles in this thematic issue, entitled "Tracking Cell Proliferation and Function," illustrate some of the choices made by authors pushing the envelope for cell tracking applications in their areas of interest. Over the past decade there has been a proliferation in the range of commercially available probes for these studies, the capabilities of the instrumentation used to detect them, and in the biological systems being studied. This introductory to the thematic issue presents the advantages and limitations of the more commonly used probes such as CFSE and PKH26, as well as emerging probes that expand the range of fluorescence available, including quantum dots and the new CellVue dyes. Appropriate method and instrument setup controls and possible data analysis strategies are discussed with the goal of urging experienced investigators to include all critical information and controls when publishing their data and of aiding researchers new to cell tracking to make informed decisions on which cell tracking reagent(s) are best suited for their particular application. All cell tracking assays have the common goal of determining the fate of a particular cell population within a heterogeneous environment, whether in vivo or in vitro. Some of the common themes among the contributions found in this issue include how various probes are used to track (i) cell proliferation, (ii) regulatory and effector immune cell function and (iii) membrane transfer and antigen presentation. Although these represent only a small fraction of the large and growing list of applications for cell tracking, clearly illustrate the growing trend toward the use of multiple tracking reagents and multiple detection modalities to address complex biological questions.

CellVue Claret, a New Far-red Dye, Facilitates Polychromatic Assessment of Immune Cell Proliferation

Flow cytometric analyses of immune cell proliferation, differentiation, and function are limited by the number of different fluorochromes that can be resolved simultaneously. Additional colors to expand functional analytic capability will facilitate higher dimensional analyses of heterogeneous cell populations by basic and clinical scientists. Our aim in these studies was to evaluate CellVue Claret, a fluorescent, far-red emitting, membrane intercalating dye (excitation maximum: 655 nm, emission maximum 677 nm), as an alternative and/or complementary probe to PKH26 and CFSE(1) for polychromatic studies of immune cell proliferation and function. Using a BD FACSCalibur and human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 8 different donors (2 donors studied twice), we compared CellVue Claret with the two most commonly used visible-emitting proliferation dyes, PKH26 and CFSE, in terms of: (1) compatibility with 7-Amino-actinomycin D (7-AAD) as a viability marker; (2) effect of dye labeling on lymphocyte viability; and (3) the proliferative response of CD3+ T lymphocytes from 0-96 hours as assessed by dilution of each of the 3 cell tracking dyes in cultures stimulated with anti-CD3 plus IL-2. Post-labeling recoveries and viabilities were similar for all 3 dyes, with modestly higher initial staining intensities and coefficients of variation for CellVue Claret than for CFSE or PKH26. Lymphocyte viabilities in stimulated or unstimulated cultures were also unaffected by choice of dye. Proliferative responses of viable CD3+ lymphocytes were comparable for all three dyes, whether results were reported as Proliferative Fraction (percent of cells that had divided one or more times) or as Precursor Frequency (percent of parent population that had gone on to proliferate in response to anti-CD3 plus IL-2). In summary, T cell proliferation analysis using CellVue Claret gives results equivalent to those obtained with PKH26 or CFSE, expanding the choice of proliferation dyes suitable for use in high dimensional polychromatic studies on flow cytometers with far red (633 nm-658 nm) excitation capabilities.

Novel Lipophilic Tracking Dyes for Monitoring Cell Proliferation

The advent of contemporary digital instrumentation has enhanced both the potential and the complexity of flow cytometric experiments, allowing for the detailed dissection of immune cell subsets and their functions. The use of cell tracking labels such as PKH26 and CFSE has been important in observing such cellular functions, but their visible emission characteristics have limited the design of such analyses. As the demand for multiparametric flow cytometry intensifies, it will become increasingly important to utilize a broader range of cell tracking reagents to optimize the measurement of fluorescence signals and to provide flexibility in the use of commercially available fluorochrome - antibody combinations. We report on the evaluation of three lipophilic membrane dyes, CellVue Lavender, CellVue Plum and CellVue NIR780; with fluorescence emissions in the violet, far-red and near infrared wavelength regions, respectively. These reagents are similar to established tracking dyes such as PKH26 and CFSE in terms of staining procedure, membrane stability, optimal concentration, and lack of effect on cellular proliferation. The CellVue dyes however, exhibit different spectral characteristics than existing tracking compounds, and capitalize upon the increased number of lasers incorporated into commercially available instrumentation; thus permitting measurement of labeled populations in underexploited regions of the spectrum.

Tracking Antigen-driven Responses by Flow Cytometry: Monitoring Proliferation by Dye Dilution

Cell-tracking reagents such as the green-fluorescent protein labeling dye CFSE and the red-fluorescent lipophilic membrane dye PKH26 are commonly used to monitor cell proliferation by flow cytometry in heterogeneous cell populations responding to immune stimuli. Both reagents stain cells with a bright homogeneous fluorescence, which is partitioned between daughter cells during each cell division. Because daughter cell fluorescence intensities are approximately halved after each division, the intensity of a cell relative to its intensity at the time of staining provides information about how many divisions it has undergone. Knowing how many rounds of division have occurred and the relative number of cells in each daughter generation, one can back-calculate the number of cells in the original population (i.e., cells present at the time of stimulus) that went on to respond by proliferating. Using this information, the precursor cell frequencies and extent of expansion to a specific antigen or mitogen of interest can be calculated. Concurrently, the phenotype of the cells can be determined, as well as their ability to bind antigen or synthesize cytokines, providing more detailed characterization of all cells responding to the antigen, not just effector cells. In multiparameter flow cytometric experiments to simultaneously analyze antigen-specific tetramer binding, cytokine production and T-cell proliferation, we found that only approximately half of the cells that exhibited specific binding to influenza tetramer also proliferated, as measured by dye dilution, and synthesized IFNgamma in response to antigen. We expect the advent of new cell tracking dyes emitting from the violet to the near infrared combined with the increasing number of lasers and detectors on contemporary flow cytometers to further expand the usefulness of this approach to characterization of complex antigen-driven immunological responses.

Tracking Immune Cell Proliferation and Cytotoxic Potential Using Flow Cytometry

In the second edition of this series, we described the use of cell tracking dyes in combination with tetramer reagents and traditional phenotyping protocols to monitor levels of proliferation and cytokine production in antigen-specific CD8(+) T cells. In particular, we illustrated how tracking dye fluorescence profiles could be used to ascertain the precursor frequencies of different subsets in the T-cell pool that are able to bind tetramer, synthesize cytokines, undergo antigen-driven proliferation, and/or carry out various combinations of these functional responses.Analysis of antigen-specific proliferative responses represents just one of many functions that can be monitored using cell tracking dyes and flow cytometry. In this third edition, we address issues to be considered when combining two different tracking dyes with other phenotypic and viability probes for the assessment of cytotoxic effector activity and regulatory T-cell functions. We summarize key characteristics of and differences between general protein- and membrane-labeling dyes, discuss determination of optimal staining concentrations, and provide detailed labeling protocols for both dye types. Examples of the advantages of two-color cell tracking are provided in the form of protocols for (a) independent enumeration of viable effector and target cells in a direct cytotoxicity assay and (b) simultaneous monitoring of proliferative responses in effector and regulatory T cells.

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