The progression of atherosclerosis is associated with leukocyte infiltration within lesions. We describe a technique for the ex vivo imaging of cellular recruitment in atherogenesis which utilizes quantum dots (QD) to color-code different cell types within lesion areas. Spectrally distinct QD were coated with the cell-penetrating peptide maurocalcine to fluorescently-label immunomagnetically isolated monocyte/macrophages and T lymphocytes. QD-maurocalcine bioconjugates labeled both cell types with a high efficiency, preserved cell viability, and did not perturb native leukocyte function in cytokine release and endothelial adhesion assays. QD-labeled monocyte/macrophages and T lymphocytes were reinfused in an ApoE-/- mouse model of atherosclerosis and age-matched controls and tracked for up to four weeks to investigate the incorporation of cells within aortic lesion areas, as determined by oil red O (ORO) and immunofluorescence ex vivo staining. QD-labeled cells were visible in atherosclerotic plaques within two days of injection, and the two cell types colocalized within areas of subsequent ORO staining. Our method for tracking leukocytes in lesions enables high signal-to-noise ratio imaging of multiple cell types and biomarkers simultaneously within the same specimen. It also has great utility in studies aimed at investigating the role of distinct circulating leukocyte subsets in plaque development and progression.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Materials Science(all)
- Mechanics of Materials
- Mechanical Engineering
- Electrical and Electronic Engineering