Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 425 Views Dec 5, 2023

The innate immune system can remember previous inflammatory insults, enabling long-term heightened responsiveness to secondary immune challenges in a process termed “trained immunity.” Trained innate immune cells undergo metabolic and epigenetic remodelling and, upon a secondary challenge, provide enhanced protection with therapeutic potential. Trained immunity has largely been studied in innate immune cells in vitro or following ex vivo re-stimulation where the primary insult is typically injected into a mouse, adult zebrafish, or human. While highly informative, there is an opportunity to investigate trained immunity entirely in vivo within an unperturbed, intact whole organism. The exclusively innate immune response of larval zebrafish offers an attractive system to model trained immunity. Larval zebrafish have a functional innate immune system by 2 days post fertilisation (dpf) and are amenable to high-resolution, high-throughput analysis. This, combined with their optical transparency, conserved antibacterial responses, and availability of transgenic reporter lines, makes them an attractive alternative model to study trained immunity in vivo. We have devised a protocol where β-glucan (one of the most widely used experimental triggers of trained immunity) is systemically delivered into larval zebrafish using microinjection to stimulate a trained-like phenotype. Following stimulation, larvae are assessed for changes in gene expression, which indicate the stimulatory effect of β-glucan. This protocol describes a robust delivery method of one of the gold standard stimulators of trained immunity into a model organism that is highly amenable to several non-invasive downstream analyses.

Key features

• This protocol outlines the delivery of one of the most common experimental stimulators of trained immunity into larval zebrafish.

• The protocol enables the assessment of a trained-like phenotype in vivo.

• This protocol can be applied to transgenic or mutant zebrafish lines to investigate cells or genes of interest in response to β-glucan stimulation.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 463 Views Oct 20, 2023

Mannan from yeast induces psoriasis-like inflammation in the skin of inbred mouse strains. Limitations of available models led us to develop a new psoriasis model with a rapid disease onset, severe disease course, short duration, and a simple and easy-to-induce protocol with much more practically convenient features and cost-benefits. Mannan-induced skin inflammation (MISI) is more severe than the classical imiquimod (IMQ)-induced skin inflammation (IISI), with characteristic features resembling human plaque psoriasis but with relatively fewer toxicity issues. Epicutaneous application of mannan (5 mg) in incomplete Freund’s adjuvant or Vaseline induces severe psoriasis in BALB/c female mice. Psoriasis area and severity index (PASI) and histological evaluation of the skin could help assess the disease development. MISI mimics natural environmental factors affecting the skin relatively more closely than IISI. This disease model can be used to dissect inflammatory pathways in the skin, identify genetic and environmental factors affecting psoriasis, and test potential pharmacological agents or new combinations of available drugs for treatment before designing clinical trials.

Key features

S. cerevisiae mannan induces psoriasis-like skin inflammation(MISI) when applied on the skin of inbred mice.

• The MISI model has a rapid onset, severe disease, short duration, and simple and easy-to-induce protocol.

• MISI is more severe than imiquimod-induced skin inflammation (IISI).

• Female mice had a more severe disease than males in the MISI model, thereby allowing the study of sex-dependent disease mechanisms.

• The MISI model identifies skin inflammatory pathways and genetic/environmental factors affecting psoriasis.

• The MISI model can be used as a drug testing platform for potential pharmaceuticals to develop new therapeutics for psoriasis patients.

• The MISI model can be used to explore the relative contribution of different pattern recognition receptors in the development and severity of psoriasis.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 624 Views Jul 20, 2023

Innate lymphoid cells (ILCs) are a rare cell population subdivided into ILC1s, ILC2s, and ILC3s, based on transcription factor expression and cytokine production. In models of lung inflammation, the release of alarmins from the epithelium activates ILC2s and promotes the production of Th2-cytokines and the proliferation and migration of ILC2s within the lung. ILC2s are the innate counterpart to CD4+ Th2s and, as such, express Gata-3 and produce IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13. Due to the low number of ILCs and the lack of specific surface markers, flow cytometry is the most reliable technique for the identification and characterization of ILCs. In this protocol, multicolor flow cytometry is utilized to identify LineageThy1.2+ ILCs. Intracellular cytokine staining further identifies ILC2s within the lung. This protocol presents a reliable method for promoting ILC2-mediated lung inflammation and for monitoring ILC2 biology.

Key features

• In this protocol, ILC2s are expanded via intranasal challenges with Alternaria alternata, a fungal allergen, or recombinant IL-33.

• Bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) and lung are collected and processed into single-cell suspension for multicolor flow cytometric analysis, including intracellular staining of transcription factors and cytokines.

• During lung inflammation, the percentage of ILC2s and eosinophils increases. ILC2s express greater levels of Gata-3 and Ki-67 and produce greater amounts of IL-5 and IL-13.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 777 Views Jul 20, 2023

The immune-inhibitory molecule programmed cell death ligand 1 (PD-L1) has been shown to play a role in pathologies such as autoimmunity, infections, and cancer. The expression of PD-L1 not only on cancer cells but also on non-transformed host cells is known to be associated with cancer progression. Generation of PD-L1 deficiency in the murine system enables us to specifically study the role of PD-L1 in physiological processes and diseases. One of the most versatile and easy to use site-specific gene editing tools is the CRISPR/Cas9 system, which is based on an RNA-guided nuclease system. Similar to its predecessors, the Zinc finger nucleases or transcription activator-like effector nucleases (TALENs), CRISPR/Cas9 catalyzes double-strand DNA breaks, which can result in frameshift mutations due to random nucleotide insertions or deletions via non-homologous end joining (NHEJ). Furthermore, although less frequently, CRISPR/Cas9 can lead to insertion of defined sequences due to homology-directed repair (HDR) in the presence of a suitable template. Here, we describe a protocol for the knockout of PD-L1 in the murine C57BL/6 background using CRISPR/Cas9. Targeting of exon 3 coupled with the insertion of a HindIII restriction site leads to a premature stop codon and a loss-of-function phenotype. We describe the targeting strategy as well as founder screening, genotyping, and phenotyping. In comparison to NHEJ-based strategy, the presented approach results in a defined stop codon with comparable efficiency and timelines as NHEJ, generates convenient founder screening and genotyping options, and can be swiftly adapted to other targets.

0 Q&A 1312 Views Apr 20, 2023

Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T therapy launched a new era for cancer treatments, displaying outstanding effectiveness in relapsed or refractory B-cell malignancies. Demonstrating the tumor-killing ability of CAR-Ts in mouse xenograft models serves as a golden criterium in preclinical research. Here, we describe a detailed method for evaluating CAR-T’s function in immune-deficient mice bearing Raji B cell–induced tumors. It includes generating CD19 CAR-T cells from healthy donors, injecting tumor cells and CAR-T cells into mice, and monitoring tumor growth and CAR-T state. This protocol provides a practical guide to evaluate CAR-T’s function in vivo within eight weeks.

Graphical overview

0 Q&A 1554 Views Mar 20, 2023

E-cigarette (E-cig) inhalation affects health status by modulating inflammation profiles in several organs, including the brain, lung, heart, and colon. The effect of flavored fourth-generation pod-based E-cigs (JUUL) on murine gut inflammation is modulated by both flavor and exposure period. Exposure of mice to JUUL mango and JUUL mint for one month upregulated inflammatory cytokines, particularly TNF-α, IL-6, and Cxcl-1 (IL-8). JUUL Mango effects were more prominent than those incurred by JUUL Mint after one month of exposure. However, JUUL Mango reduced the expression of colonic inflammatory cytokines after three months of exposure. In this protocol, we detail the process of RNA isolation from the mouse colon and the use of extracted RNA in profiling the inflammatory milieu. Efficient RNA extraction from the murine colon is the most important step in the evaluation of inflammatory transcripts in the colon.

0 Q&A 1032 Views Mar 5, 2023

A rigorous determination of effector contributions of tumor-infiltrating immune cells is critical for identifying targetable molecular mechanisms for the development of novel cancer immunotherapies. A tumor/immune cell–admixture model is an advantageous strategy to study tumor immunology as the fundamental methodology is relatively straightforward, while also being adaptable to scale to address increasingly complex research queries. Ultimately, this method can provide robust experimental information to complement more traditional murine models of tumor immunology. Here, we describe a tumor/macrophage-admixture model using bone marrow–derived macrophages to investigate macrophage-dependent tumorigenesis. Additionally, we provide commentary on potential branch points for optimization with other immune cells, experimental techniques, and cancer types.

0 Q&A 1013 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 1530 Views Aug 20, 2022

Abdominal surgeries are frequently associated with the development of post-surgical adhesions. These are irreversible fibrotic scar bands that appear between abdominal organs and the abdominal wall. Patients suffering from adhesions are at risk of severe complications, such as small bowel obstruction, chronic pelvic pain, or infertility. To date, no cure exists, and the understanding of underlying molecular mechanisms of adhesion formation is incomplete. The current paradigm largely relies on sterile injury mouse models. However, abdominal surgeries in human patients are rarely completely sterile procedures. Here, we describe a modular surgical procedure for simultaneous or separate induction of sterile injury and microbial contamination. Combined, these insults synergistically lead to adhesion formation in the mouse peritoneal cavity. Surgical trauma is confined to a localized sterile injury of the peritoneum. Microbial contamination of the peritoneal cavity is induced by a limited perforation of the microbe-rich large intestine or by injection of fecal content. The presented protocol extends previous injury-based adhesion models by an additional insult through microbial contamination, which may more adequately model the clinical context of abdominal surgery.

Graphical abstract:

0 Q&A 980 Views Aug 5, 2022

Microbiome studies are quickly gaining momentum. Since most of the resident microbes (consisting of bacteria, fungi, and viruses) are difficult to culture, sequencing the microbial genome is the method of choice to characterize them. It is therefore important to have efficient methodology for gDNA isolation of gut microbes. Mouse models are widely used to understand human disease etiology while avoiding human ethics-related complications. However, the widely used kit-based methods are costly, and sometimes yields (in terms of quality and quantity) are sub-optimal. To overcome this problem, we developed a straightforward, standardized DNA isolation procedure from mouse cecal content for further microbiome-related studies. The reagents we used to standardize the procedure are readily available even in a not-so-well-equipped laboratory, and the reagents are not expensive. The yield and quality of the DNA are also better than those obtained by the readily available kit-based methods.

Additionally, we modified the kit-based method of RNA isolation from the colon tissue sample of the mouse for better yield. Churning the tissue with liquid nitrogen at the beginning of the procedure improves RNA quality and quantity.

Graphical abstract:

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