Quantification of leukocyte migration: improvement of a method

Immunol Invest. Jan-Mar 1996;25(1-2):49-63. doi: 10.3109/08820139609059290.


Eighteen different permeable membrane supports with and without confluent endothelial cell monolayers were incubated with normal donor derived neutrophils in the upper chambers of a 24 multiwell double chamber system. In order to study transmembrane or transendothelial leukocyte migration leukocytes were stimulated by chemoattractants, or endothelial cells were activated by IL-1. After coincubation the membrane supports building the upper chambers were discarded. Using this technique, leukocytes that had migrated into the lower chamber were exposed to the fluorescent dye calcein AM without additional washing or transfer steps. Absolute cell counts were determined computer assisted using dilution series of calcein AM labeled leukocytes as standards. Serial dilutions of neutrophils exposed to calcein AM showed reproducible linear fluorescence intensity, and relative fluorescence intensity correlated significant with cell counts (r2 = 0.974, p < 0.0001). Out of 18 membrane supports only one was suitable for our assay set up. Best technical and optical performance was achieved with a membrane made of polyethylene terephtalate with a pore size of 3 mm at a pore density of 0.8 x 10(6)/cm2. Stimulation of leukocytes or endothelium by FMLP or IL-1 revealed an increase of transendothelial migration to 7.2 +/- 1.8 x 10(5) PMN and 5.1 +/- 0.7 x 10(5) PMN respectively if compared with medium (0.6 +/- 0.2 x 10(5) PMN). IL-1 induced migration of neutrophils was inhibited by anti IL-1 autoantibodies derived from chronic renal failure patients (IL-1: 100% of PMN migrated, anti IL-1 antibody: 39% of PMN migrated, control antibody: 84% of PMN migrated). In summary, a simple fluorimetric assay was established for the quantification of transmembrane and transendothelial leukocyte migration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / immunology
  • Autoantibodies / pharmacology
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chemotactic Factors / metabolism
  • Chemotaxis, Leukocyte* / drug effects
  • Concanavalin A / pharmacology
  • Diffusion Chambers, Culture*
  • Dye Dilution Technique*
  • Endothelium, Vascular / drug effects
  • Endothelium, Vascular / metabolism
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Fluorometry / instrumentation
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Interleukin-1 / immunology
  • Interleukin-1 / pharmacology
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / immunology
  • Leukocyte Count / methods*
  • Membranes, Artificial*
  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine / pharmacology
  • Neutrophils / drug effects
  • Neutrophils / physiology
  • Permeability
  • Phytohemagglutinins / pharmacology


  • Autoantibodies
  • Chemotactic Factors
  • Fluoresceins
  • Fluorescent Dyes
  • Interleukin-1
  • Membranes, Artificial
  • Phytohemagglutinins
  • Concanavalin A
  • calcein AM
  • N-Formylmethionine Leucyl-Phenylalanine