Isolation of Tonsillar Mononuclear Cells to Study ex vivo Innate Immune Responses in a Human Mucosal Lymphoid Tissue

* These authors contributed equally
This article has been accepted and is currently in production


Studying isolated cells from mucosa-associated lymphoid tissues (MALT) allows understanding of immune cells response in pathologies involving mucosal immunity, because they can model host-pathogen interactions in the tissue. While isolated cells derived from tissues were the first cell culture model, their use has been neglected because tissue can be hard to obtain. In the present protocol, we explain how to easily process and culture tonsillar mononuclear cells (TMCs) from healthy human tonsils to study innate immune responses upon activation, mimicking viral infection in mucosal tissues. Isolation of TMCs from the tonsils is quick, because the tonsils barely have any epithelium and yield up to billions of all major immune cell types. This method allows detection of cytokine production using several techniques, including immunoassays, qPCR, microscopy, flow cytometry, etc., similar to the use of peripheral mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from blood. Furthermore, TMCs show a higher sensitivity to drug testing than PBMCs, which needs to be considered for future toxicity assays. Thus, ex vivo TMCs cultures are an easy and accessible mucosal model.