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Murine whole-organ immune cell populations revealed by multi-epitope-ligand cartography

Eckhardt, J;Ostalecki, C;Kuczera, K;Schuler, G;Pommer, AJ;Lechmann, M;

Multi-epitope-ligand cartography (MELC) is an innovative high-throughput fluorescence microscopy-based method. A tissue section is analyzed through a repeated cycling of (1) incubation with a fluorophore-labeled antibody, (2) fluorescence imaging, and (3) soft bleaching. This method allows staining of the same tissue section with up to 100 fluorescent markers and to analyze their toponomic expression using further image processing and pixel-precise overlay of the corresponding images. In this study, we adapted this method to identify a large panel of murine leukocyte subpopulations in a whole frozen section of a peripheral lymph node. Using the resulting antibody library, we examined non-inflamed versus inflamed tissues of brain and spinal cord in the experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) model. The presence and activity of specific leukocyte subpopulations (different T cell subpopulations, dendritic cells, macrophages, etc.) could be assessed and the cellular localizations and the corresponding activation status in situ were investigated. The results were then correlated with quantitative RT-PCR.