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Multi-Compartmental Analysis of the Murine Pulmonary Immune Response by Spectral Flow Cytometry

Chang, MY;Brune, JE;Black, M;Altemeier, WA;Frevert, CW;

Studies of pulmonary inflammation require unique considerations due to the complex structure and composition of the lungs. The lungs have multiple compartments and diverse immune cell populations, with inherently high autofluorescence, and are involved in the host response to pulmonary pathogens. We describe a protocol that accounts for these factors through a novel combination of methodologies – in vivo compartmental analysis and spectral flow cytometry with a broad panel of antibodies. In vivo compartmental analysis enables the precise localization of immune cells within the marginated vasculature, lung interstitium, non-lavageable airways, and lavageable airways of the lungs, as well as the pulmonary lymph nodes. Spectral flow cytometry with a broad panel of antibodies supports an unbiased exploratory approach to investigating diverse immune cell populations during pulmonary inflammation. Most importantly, spectral flow utilizes cellular autofluorescence to aid in the resolution and identification of immune cell populations. This methodology enables the acquisition of high-quality data compatible with informed gating and dimensionality reduction algorithms. Additionally, our protocol emphasizes considerations for compartmentalization of the inflammatory response, spectral flow panel design, and autofluorescence spectra analysis. These methodologies are critical for increasing the rigor of pulmonary research. We apply this protocol for the precise characterization and localization of leukocytes in the pulmonary host response to influenza A virus in C57BL/6J mice. In particular, we demonstrate that this protocol improves the quantification and localization of alveolar macrophages within the airways. The methodology is modifiable and expandable to allow for further characterization of leukocyte populations of special interest.