Blood-borne nucleated cells participate not only in inflammation, but in tissue repair and regeneration. Because progenitor and stem cell populations have a low concentration in the blood, the circulation kinetics and tissue distribution of these cells is largely unknown. An important approach to tracking cell lineage is the use of fluorescent tracers and parabiotic models of cross-circulation. Here, we investigated the cross-circulation and cell distribution kinetics of C57/B6 GFP(+)/wild-type parabionts. Flow cytometry analysis of the peripheral blood after parabiosis demonstrated no evidence for a "parabiotic barrier" based on cell size or surface characterstics; all peripheral blood cell subpopulations in this study reached equilibrium within 14 days. Whole blood fluorescence analysis indicated that the mean exchange flow rate was 16 µl/h or 0.66% of the circulating blood volume per hour. Studies of peripheral lymphoid organs indicated differential cell distribution kinetics. Some subpopulations, such as CD8(+) and CD11c(+), equilibrated in both lymph nodes and spleen indicating a residence time <28 days; in contrast, other lymphocyte subpopulations, such as B220(+) and CD4(+) cells, had not yet reached equilibrium at 28 days. We conclude that parabiosis can provide important insights into defining tissue distribution, residence times, and recirculating pools using fluorochrome markers of cell lineage.
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