Light sheet fluorescence microscopy for in situ cell interaction analysis in mouse lymph nodes

J Immunol Methods. 2016 Apr;431:1-10. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2016.01.015. Epub 2016 Feb 2.


Reactive lymph nodes (LNs) are sites where pMHC-loaded dendritic cells (DCs) interact with rare cognate T cells, leading to their clonal expansion. While DC interactions with T cell subsets critically shape the ensuing immune response, surprisingly little is known on their spatial orchestration at physiologically T cell low precursor frequencies. Light sheet fluorescence microscopy and one of its implementations, selective plane illumination microscopy (SPIM), is a powerful method to obtain precise spatial information of entire organs of 0.5-10mm diameter, the size range of murine LNs. Yet, its usefulness for immunological research has thus far not been comprehensively explored. Here, we have tested and defined protocols that preserve fluorescent protein function during lymphoid tissue clearing required for SPIM. Reconstructions of SPIM-generated 3D data sets revealed that calibrated numbers of adoptively transferred T cells and DCs are successfully detected at a single cell level within optically cleared murine LNs. Finally, we define parameters to quantify specific interactions between antigen-specific T cells and pMHC-bearing DCs in murine LNs. In sum, our studies describe the successful application of light sheet fluorescence microscopy to immunologically relevant tissues.

Keywords: Light sheet fluorescence microscopy; Lymph nodes; T cell–DC interactions; Tissue clearing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Communication*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Dendritic Cells / cytology
  • Dendritic Cells / immunology
  • Light*
  • Lymph Nodes / cytology*
  • Lymph Nodes / immunology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence / methods*
  • T-Lymphocytes / cytology
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology