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Methods Cell Sci. 2002;24(1-3):79-90.

Host-pathogen interactions: leukocyte phagocytosis and associated sequelae.

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Laboratory of Human Bacterial Pathogenesis, Rocky Mountain Laboratories, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Hamilton, MT 59840, USA.


Polymorphonuclear leukocytes (PMNs) are a critical component of the human innate immune response and are the first line of defense against invading microorganisms. Phagocytosis of invading microbes induces production of reactive oxygen species (ROS) by PMNs, which facilitates bactericidal activity. In addition to eliminating microorganisms, phagocytosis also accelerates PMN apoptosis, a process critical for resolution of inflammation. Inasmuch as leukocyte phagocytosis and ROS production are key components of the innate immune response, we developed flow cytometric methods to evaluate these processes in human PMNs. In contrast to traditional microscopy-based analyses, the methods described herein provide objective and high throughput measures of host cell-pathogen interactions. Importantly, they can be adapted for use with a number of fluorometric probes, and bacterium and host cell of choice, and each is based upon a common phagocytosis assay system. We also describe methods to measure phagocytosis-induced PMN apoptosis with this assay system. These methods entail detecting surface-exposed phosphatidylserine (early apoptosis), and measuring PMN chromatin condensation and DNA fragmentation (late apoptosis). Taken together, these assays provide rapid and accurate assessment of critical PMN processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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