Cell Biology


Protocols in Current Issue
Protocols in Past Issues
0 Q&A 299 Views Jul 5, 2023

The trachea tube is the exclusive route to allow gas exchange between the external environment and the lungs. Recent studies have shown the critical role of mesenchymal cells in tracheal tubulogenesis. Improved methods for studying the dynamics of the tracheal mesenchyme development are needed to investigate the cellular and molecular mechanisms during tracheal tubulogenesis. Here, we describe a detailed protocol for a systematic analysis of tracheal tube development to enable observing tracheal smooth muscle (SM) and cartilage ring formation. We describe immunostaining, confocal and stereomicroscopy imaging, and quantitative methods to study the process of tracheal SM and cartilage ring development, including SM cell alignment, polarization, and changes in cell shape as well as mesenchymal condensation. The technologies and approaches described here not only improve analysis of the patterning of the developing trachea but also help uncover the mechanisms underlying airway disease. This protocol also provides a useful technique to analyze cell organization, polarity, and nuclear shape in other organ systems.

0 Q&A 1968 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.

0 Q&A 3379 Views Sep 20, 2021

Neutrophils are one of the first innate immune cells recruited to tissues during inflammation. An important function of neutrophils relies on their ability to release extracellular structures, known as Neutrophil Extracellular Traps or NETs, into their environment. Detecting such NETs in humans has often proven challenging for both biological fluids and tissues; however, this can be achieved by quantitating NET components (e.g., DNA or granule/histone proteins) or by directly visualizing them by microscopy, respectively. Direct visualization by confocal microscopy is preferably performed on formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue sections stained with a fluorescent DNA dye and antibodies directed against myeloperoxidase (MPO) and citrullinated histone 3 (Cit-H3), two components of NETs, following paraffin removal, antigen retrieval, and permeabilization. NETs are defined as extracellular structures that stain double-positive for MPO and Cit-H3. Here, we propose a novel software-based objective method for NET volume quantitation in tissue sections based on the measurement of the volume of structures exhibiting co-localization of Cit-H3 and MPO outside the cell. Such a technique not only allows the unambiguous identification of NETs in tissue sections but also their quantitation and relationship with surrounding tissues.

Graphic abstract:

Graphical representation of the methodology used to stain and quantitate NETs in human lung tissue.

0 Q&A 4686 Views Jan 20, 2021

The skin is the largest organ that protects our body from the external environment and it is constantly exposed to pathogenic insults and injury. Repair of damage to this organ is carried out by a complex process involving three overlapping phases of inflammation, proliferation and remodeling. Histological analysis of wounded skin is a convenient approach to examine broad alterations in tissue architecture and investigate cells in their indigenous microenvironment. In this article we present a protocol for immunohistochemical examination of wounded skin to study mechanisms involved in regulating stem cell activity, which is a vital component in the repair of the damaged tissue. Performing such histological analysis enables the understanding of the spatial relationship between cells that interact in the specialized wound microenvironment. The analytical tools described herein permit the quantitative measurement of the regenerative ability of stem cells adjacent to the wound and the extent of re-epithelialization during wound closure. These protocols can be adapted to investigate numerous cellular processes and cell types within the wounded skin.

0 Q&A 3375 Views Oct 20, 2020
Oligodendrocytes generate distinct patterns of myelination throughout the CNS. Variations in myelination along axons may enable neurons to fine-tune conduction velocities and alter signal synchronisation. Here we outline a staining protocol permitting the assessment of the number and length of myelin sheaths formed by oligodendrocyte in the mouse grey matter. This protocol enables the investigation of myelination without the need for reporter mice or technically challenging protocols, aiding the investigation of factors influencing myelin production in the brain.
0 Q&A 2739 Views Oct 5, 2020
Growing evidences suggest that peritubular capillaries pericytes are the main source of scar-forming myofibroblasts during chronic kidney disease (CKD), as well as early phases of acute kidney injury (AKI). In a swine model of sepsis and I/R (Ischemia Reperfusion) injury-induced AKI we demonstrated that renal pericytes are able to transdifferentiate toward α-SMA+ myofibroblasts leading to interstitial fibrosis. Even if precise pericytes identification requires transmission electron microscopy and the co-immunostaining of several markers (i.e., Gli, NG2 chondroitin sulphate proteoglycan, CD146, desmin or CD73) and emerging new markers (CD248 or TEM1, endosialin), previous studies suggested that PDGFR-β could be used as marker for renal pericytes characterization. Recently, double immunofluorescence staining of PDGFR-β and α-SMA was performed to identify the damage activated pericytes (PDGFR-β+/α-SMA+ cells) in the early phase of fibrosis development. Our data highlighted the crucial role of renal pericytes in the physiopathology of sepsis and I/R associated AKI. In this protocol, we describe the procedure for double immunofluorescence staining of PDGFR-β and α-SMA in swine Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded (FFPE) kidney biopsies and the method for image analysis and quantification.
0 Q&A 6974 Views May 20, 2020
Expansion of fibrous connective tissue and abnormal deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) are at the basis of many fibrotic diseases. Fibrosis can occur in response to both physiological and pathological cues, including wound healing, tissue remodeling/repair and inflammation. Chronic fibrosis can lead to severe tissue damage, organ failure and death. Assessing the extent of organ fibrosis is crucial for accurate diagnosis of this condition. The use of Masson’s trichrome staining of tissue sections from skeletal muscle is a fast method for detection of morphological alterations indicative of a fibrotic phenotype in this organ. This staining method detects the extent of collagen fibers deposition and, because it employs the combination of three dyes, can also distinguish muscle fibers (red), from collagen (blue) and nuclei (black), simultaneously.
0 Q&A 8507 Views Jul 5, 2019
The chick chorioallantoic membrane (CAM) is an extra-embryonic organ and thus well accessible for seeding and harvesting 3D cell cultures. Samples from CAM assays are suitable for protein and gene expression analysis as well as for immuno-histochemical studies. Here we present the CAM assay as a possible model to study autophagy in different types of cancer using immunohistochemistry. Compared with other 3D and xenograft models, the CAM assay displays several advantages such as lower costs, shorter experimental times, physiological environment and reproducibility. Macroautophagy hereafter simply referred to as “autophagy” is a conserved cellular catabolic process that degrades and recycles cellular components. Under basal conditions, autophagy contributes to the maintenance of cellular homeostasis whereas under cellular stress, such as starvation or hypoxia, autophagy is activated as a survival mechanism. Dysregulation of autophagy has been described in many diseases. In cancer, autophagy has been suggested to play a dual role. Whereas autophagy has been reported to play a tumor suppressive role in early stages, it seems to be rather tumor supportive in later stages. Here we provide a method to study autophagy in 3D microtumors of cancer cells grown on the CAM.
0 Q&A 13067 Views Mar 20, 2019
In situ hybridization is used to visualize the spatial distribution of gene transcripts in tissues and in embryos, providing important information about disease and development. Current methods involve the use of complementary riboprobes incorporating non-radioactive labels that can be detected by immunohistochemistry and coupled to chromogenic or fluorescent visualization. Although recent fluorescent methods have allowed new capabilities such as single-molecule counting, qualitative chromogenic detection remains important for many applications because of its relative simplicity, low cost and high throughput, and ease of imaging using transmitted light microscopy. A remaining challenge is combining high contrast signals with reliable genotyping after hybridization. Dextran sulfate is commonly added to the hybridization buffer to shorten development times and improve contrast, but this reagent inhibits PCR-based genotyping. This paper describes a modified protocol for in situ hybridization in fixed whole mount zebrafish embryos using digoxigenin (DIG) labeled riboprobes that are detected with alkaline phosphatase conjugated anti-DIG antibodies and nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT)/5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolyl-phosphate (BCIP) chromogenic substrates. To yield embryos compatible with downstream genotyping after hybridization without sacrificing contrast of the signal, this protocol omits dextran sulfate and utilizes a lower hybridization temperature.
0 Q&A 5687 Views Mar 5, 2019
In many fields of biology, especially in the field of developmental biology, LacZ reporter staining is an approach used to monitor gene expression patterns. In the LacZ reporter system, the LacZ gene is inserted in the endogenous location of the target gene via gene knock-in or by constructing a transgenic cassette in which LacZ is placed downstream of the promoter of the target gene being examined. Currently, the most common LacZ staining methods used are X-gal/FeCN staining and S-gal/TNBT staining. A serious limitation of both of these methods is that they are not effective when the LacZ gene is expressed at a low level. In an attempt to remedy this problem, we have established a new staining protocol which combines both methods. When compared to them, the method described here is better for visualizing lowly expressed genes and it has low background with high sensitivity.

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