by Daniel Fiole, Cédric Touvrey, Anne Quesnel-Hellmann, Julien Douady, Jean-Nicolas Tournier
Dendritic Cells (DC) represent a key lung immune cell population, which play a critical role in the antigen presenting process and initiation of the adaptive immune response. The study of DCs has largely benefited from the joint development of fluorescence microscopy and knock-in technology, leading to several mouse strains with constitutively labeled DC subsets. However, in the lung most transgenic mice do express fluorescent protein not only in DCs, but also in closely related cell lineages such as monocytes and macrophages. As an example, in the lungs of CX3CR1+/gfp mice the green fluorescent protein is expressed mostly by both CD11b conventional DCs and resident monocytes. Despite this non-specific staining, we show that a shape criterion can discriminate these two particular subsets. Implemented in a cell tracking code, this quantified criterion allows us to analyze the specific behavior of DCs under inflammatory conditions mediated by lipopolysaccharide on lung explants. Compared to monocytes, we show that DCs move slower and are more confined, while both populations do not have any chemotactism-associated movement. We could generalize from these results that DCs can be automatically discriminated from other round-shaped cells expressing the same fluorescent protein in various lung inflammation models.