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Cytometry B Clin Cytom. 2003 Jan;51(1):21-9.

Investigations of phagosomes, mitochondria, and acidic granules in human neutrophils using fluorescent probes.

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Medical Department, Haukeland University Hospital and the PROMED Institute, Bergen, Norway.


The oxidative burst is frequently evaluated by the conversion of dihydrorhodamine 123 (DHR) to rhodamine 123 (R123) and hydroethidium (HE) to ethidium with the use of flow cytometry (FCM). Added R123 accumulates in mitochondria, but during phagocytosis R123 originating from DHR has been observed in neutrophil granules. The present study was designed to identify the site of reactive oxygen species (ROS) formation and the intracellular traffic of R123 in neutrophils by using mitochondrial membrane potential probes and the lysosomotropic probe LysoTracker Red, which have not previously been applied to neutrophils. Quiescent and phagocytosing human peripheral blood neutrophils were incubated with DHR, HE, R123, MitoTracker Green (MTG), MitoTracker Red (CMX-Ros), and LysoTracker Red alone and in all combinations of red and green probes, and studied by FCM and confocal laser scanning microscopy (CLSM). Phagosomes were filled with R123 originating from DHR. Phagocytosis also triggered the oxidative burst in oxidative response granules that differed from acidic granules. All the neutrophils stained with mitochondrial and lysosomotropic dyes. Added R123 and MTG selectively accumulated in mitochondria. Added R123, MTG, and DHR increased the fluorescence of CMX-Ros and LysoTracker Red. This is the first FCM and CLSM demonstration of ROS formation in phagosomes. A distinct subpopulation of neutrophil granules, termed oxidative response granules, also was identified. Neutrophil mitochondrial membrane potential may be evaluated by incubating the cells with R123 and MTG, but results with CMX-Ros should be interpreted with caution. HE and DHR seem to measure a common pathway in the oxidative burst. The simultaneous application of several probes for investigations of organelles carries the risk of probe interference.

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