Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 170 Views May 5, 2023

X-ray computed microtomography (µCT) is a powerful tool to reveal the 3D structure of tissues and organs. Compared with the traditional sectioning, staining, and microscopy image acquisition, it allows a better understanding of the morphology and a precise morphometric analysis. Here, we describe a method for 3D visualization and morphometric analysis by µCT scanning of the embryonic heart of iodine-stained E15.5 mouse embryos.

0 Q&A 272 Views May 5, 2023

Skeletal muscle is the most abundant tissue in the human body and has a tremendous capability to regenerate in response to muscle injuries and diseases. Induction of acute muscle injury is a common method to study muscle regeneration in vivo. Cardiotoxin (CTX) belongs to the family of snake venom toxins and is one of the most common reagents to induce muscle injury. Intramuscular injection of CTX causes overwhelming muscle contraction and lysis of myofibers. The induced acute muscle injury triggers muscle regeneration, allowing in-depth studies on muscle regeneration. This protocol describes a detailed procedure of intramuscular injection of CTX to induce acute muscle injury that could be also applied in other mammalian models.

0 Q&A 492 Views Apr 5, 2023

Microinflammation enhances the permeability of specific blood vessel sites through an elevation of local inflammatory mediators, such as interleukin (IL)-6 and tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α. By a two-dimensional immunohistochemistry analysis of tissue sections from mice with experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), an animal model for multiple sclerosis (MS), we previously showed that pathogenic immune cells, including CD4+ T cells, specifically accumulate and cause microinflammation at the dorsal vessels of the fifth lumbar cord (L5), resulting in the onset of disease. However, usual pathological analyses by using immunohistochemistry on sections are not effective at identifying the microinflammation sites in organs. Here, we developed a new three-dimensional visualization method of microinflammation using luminescent gold nanoclusters (AuNCs) and the clear, unobstructed brain/body imaging cocktails and computational analysis (CUBIC) tissue-clearing method. Our protocol is based on the detection of leaked AuNCs from the blood vessels due to an enhanced vascular permeability caused by the microinflammation. When we injected ultrasmall coordinated Au13 nanoclusters intravenously (i.v.) to EAE mice, and then subjected the spinal cords to tissue clearing, we detected Au signals leaked from the blood vessels at L5 by light sheet microscopy, which enabled the visualization of complex tissue structures at the whole organ level, consistent with our previous report that microinflammation occurs specifically at this site. Our method will be useful to specify and track the stepwise development of microinflammation in whole organs that is triggered by the recruitment of pathogenic immune cells at specific blood vessels in various inflammatory diseases.

0 Q&A 385 Views Mar 20, 2023

Phagoptosis is a prevalent type of programmed cell death (PCD) in adult tissues in which phagocytes non-autonomously eliminate viable cells. Therefore, phagoptosis can only be studied in the context of the entire tissue that includes both the phagocyte executors and the targeted cells doomed to die. Here, we describe an ex vivo live imaging protocol of Drosophila testis to study the dynamics of phagoptosis of germ cell progenitors that are spontaneously removed by neighboring cyst cells. Using this approach, we followed the pattern of exogenous fluorophores with endogenously expressed fluorescent proteins and revealed the sequence of events in germ cell phagoptosis. Although optimized for Drosophila testis, this easy-to-use protocol can be adapted to a wide variety of organisms, tissues, and probes, thus providing a reliable and simple means to study phagoptosis.

0 Q&A 369 Views Mar 5, 2023

In mammals, the skin comprises several distinct cell populations that are organized into the following layers: epidermis (stratum corneum, stratum granulosum, stratum spinosum, and basal layer), basement membrane, dermis, and hypodermal (subcutaneous fat) layers. It is vital to identify the exact location and function of proteins in different skin layers. Laser capture microdissection (LCM) is an effective technique for obtaining pure cell populations from complex tissue sections for disease-specific genomic and proteomic analysis. In this study, we used LCM to isolate different skin layers, constructed a stratified developmental lineage proteome map of human skin that incorporates spatial protein distribution, and obtained new insights into the role of extracellular matrix (ECM) on stem cell regulation.

0 Q&A 460 Views Jan 5, 2023

Skeletal muscle, one of the most abundant tissue in the body, is a highly regenerative tissue. Indeed, compared to other tissues that are not able to regenerate after injury, skeletal muscle can fully regenerate upon mechanically, chemically, and infection-induced trauma. Several injury models have been developed to thoroughly investigate the physiological mechanisms regulating skeletal muscle regeneration. This protocol describes how to induce muscle regeneration by taking advantage of a cardiotoxin (CTX)-induced muscle injury model. The overall steps include CTX injection of tibialis anterior (TA) muscles of BL6N mice, collection of regenerating muscles at different time points after CTX injury, and histological characterization of regenerating muscles. Our protocol, compared with others such as those for freeze-induced injury models, avoids laceration or infections of the muscles since it involves neither surgery nor suture. In addition, our protocol is highly reproducible, since it causes homogenous myonecrosis of the whole muscle, and further reduces animal pain and stress.

Graphical abstract

0 Q&A 686 Views Nov 5, 2022

Bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) and pulmonary hypertension associated with BPD (BPD-PH) are of multifactorial origin and share common risk factors. Most murine models of BPD expose newborn pups to only one of these risk factors—more commonly postnatal hyperoxia—thereby mimicking the vital increased fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) that preterm infants in neonatal intensive care units often require. To improve representation of the multifactorial origins of BPD and BPD-PH, we established a double hit model, combining antenatal systemic inflammation followed by postnatal hyperoxia. On embryonic day 14, pups are exposed to systemic maternal inflammation via a single intraperitoneal injection of 150 µg/kg of lipopolysaccharide to the dam. Within 24 h after birth, pups and dams are randomized and exposed to gas with either an FiO2 of 0.21 (room air) or 0.65 (hyperoxia 65%). In our BPD and BPD-PH double hit model, we can obtain multiple readouts from individual pups that include echocardiography, lung histology and immunohistochemistry, ex vivo X-ray micro computed tomography, and pulmonary and plasmatic immunity by RNA, protein, or flow cytometry.

Graphical abstract:

Figure 1. Murine double hit model of cardiopulmonary disease.
On embryonic day (E)14, pups are exposed to systemic maternal inflammation via a single intraperitoneal injection of 150 µg/kg lipopolysaccharide to the dam. Within 24 h after birth, pups and dams are randomized to be exposed to gas with either a fraction of inspired oxygen (FiO2) of 0.21 (air; 21% O2) or 0.65 (hyperoxia; 65% O2) for a maximum of 28 days. According to the murine stage of lung development (Schittny, 2017), experimental endpoints include postnatal day (D)3, D5, D14, D28, and D60.

0 Q&A 589 Views Oct 5, 2022

Late-gestation transient intrauterine hypoxia is a common cause of birth injury. It can lead to long-term neurodevelopmental disabilities even in the absence of gross anatomic injury. Currently, postnatal models of hypoxia–ischemia are most commonly used to study the effect of oxygen deprivation in the fetal brain. These models, however, are unable to take into account placental factors that influence the response to hypoxia, exhibit levels of cell death not seen in many human patients, and are unable to model preterm hypoxia. To address this gap in research, we have developed a protocol to induce transient hypoxia in fetal mice. A pregnant dam at gestational day 17.5 is placed into a hypoxia chamber. Over 30 min, the inspired oxygen is titrated from 21% (ambient air) to 5%. The dam remains in the chamber for up to 8 h, after which fetal brains can be collected or pups delivered for postnatal studies. This protocol recapitulates phenotypes seen in human patients exposed to transient in utero hypoxia and is readily reproducible by researchers.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 1030 Views Sep 20, 2022

The ex vivo experimentation with surgically discarded human skin represents a unique methodology amenable for mechanism and pharmacologic agent studies without the involvement of human subjects. Here, we describe a protocol that includes preparation, culture, and stimulation of human skin explants, and subsequent analyses by quantitative reverse transcription PCR and immunostaining. This protocol may also be applied for ex vivo studies of murine skin, reducing animal numbers and potentially harmful treatments. In our hands, this protocol has been used for wound healing, viral infection, and hair growth–related studies.

Graphical abstract:

Cartoon of explant skin culture.

Skin explant sits on top of a gelatin surgical sponge saturated with culture medium at an air–liquid interface.

0 Q&A 1589 Views Aug 20, 2022

Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a life-threatening, high mortality pulmonary condition characterized by acute lung injury (ALI) resulting in diffuse alveolar damage. Despite progress regarding the understanding of ARDS pathophysiology, there are presently no effective pharmacotherapies. Due to the complexity and multiorgan involvement typically associated with ARDS, animal models remain the most commonly used research tool for investigating potential new therapies. Experimental models of ALI/ARDS use different methods of injury to acutely induce lung damage in both small and large animals. These models have historically played an important role in the development of new clinical interventions, such as fluid therapy and the use of supportive mechanical ventilation (MV). However, failures in recent clinical trials have highlighted the potential inadequacy of small animal models due to major anatomical and physiological differences, as well as technical challenges associated with the use of clinical co-interventions [e.g., MV and extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO)]. Thus, there is a need for larger animal models of ALI/ARDS, to allow the incorporation of clinically relevant measurements and co-interventions, hopefully leading to improved rates of clinical translation. However, one of the main challenges in using large animal models of preclinical research is that fewer species-specific experimental tools and metrics are available for evaluating the extent of lung injury, as compared to rodent models. One of the most relevant indicators of ALI in all animal models is evidence of histological tissue damage, and while histological scoring systems exist for small animal models, these cannot frequently be readily applied to large animal models. Histological injury in these models differs due to the type and severity of the injury being modeled. Additionally, the incorporation of other clinical support devices such as MV and ECMO in large animal models can lead to further lung damage and appearance of features absent in the small animal models. Therefore, semi-quantitative histological scoring systems designed to evaluate tissue-level injury in large animal models of ALI/ARDS are needed. Here we describe a semi-quantitative scoring system to evaluate histological injury using a previously established porcine model of ALI via intratracheal and intravascular lipopolysaccharide (LPS) administration. Additionally, and owing to the higher number of samples generated from large animal models, we worked to implement a more sustainable and greener histopathological workflow throughout the entire process.

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