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Immunology and Infection

Automated Image-Based Quantification of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps Using NETQUANT

Published: November 27th, 2019

DOI:

10.3791/58528

1Department of Clinical Sciences, Division of Infection Medicine, Lund University

Here, we present a protocol for generating neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) and operating NETQUANT, a fully automatic software option for quantification of NETs in immunofluorescence images.

Neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) are web-like antimicrobial structures consisting of DNA and granule derived antimicrobial proteins. Immunofluorescence microscopy and image-based quantification methods remain important tools to quantitate neutrophil extracellular trap formation. However, there are key limitations to the immunofluorescence-based methods that are currently available for quantifying NETs. Manual methods of image-based NET quantification are often subjective, prone to error and tedious for users, especially non-experienced users. Also, presently available software options for quantification are either semi-automatic or require training prior to operation. Here, we demonstrate the implementation of an automated immunofluorescence-based image quantification method to evaluate NET formation called NETQUANT. The software is easy to use and has a user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI). It considers biologically relevant parameters such as an increase in the surface area and DNA:NET marker protein ratio, and nuclear deformation to define NET formation. Furthermore, this tool is built as a freely available app, and allows for single-cell resolution quantification and analysis.

Neutrophils are crucial mediators of innate host defense responses against a wide variety of microbial pathogens1. They execute their antimicrobial functions by releasing their granules containing a wide array of antimicrobial proteins2, producing reactive oxygen species (ROS) and hypochlorite1, and through phagocytosis3. In addition, Brinkmann et al.4 described neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) as a novel mechanism by which neutrophils trap and eliminate invading pathogens. Since their discovery a little over a decade ago.css-f1q1l5{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-align-items:flex-end;-webkit-box-align:flex-end;-ms-flex-align:flex-end;align-items:flex-end;background-image:linear-gradient(180deg, rgba(255, 255, 255, 0) 0%, rgba(255, 255, 255, 0.8) 40%, rgba(255, 255, 255, 1) 100%);width:100%;height:100%;position:absolute;bottom:0px;left:0px;font-size:var(--chakra-fontSizes-lg);color:#676B82;}

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The ethics committee of Lund University approved the collection of venous blood from healthy volunteers in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki (2013/728). All volunteers provided their written informed consent.

1. Isolation of Peripheral Blood Neutrophils using Density-Gradient Centrifugation

  1. Collect human venous blood in tubes containing heparin and allow the tubes to reach room temperature.
    Note: A minimum of 16 mL of blood from a healthy donor is required to yield.......

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5 x 105 neutrophils/mL were seeded onto coverslips placed in a 12-well plate and stimulated with either 20 nM PMA or left unstimulated for 150 min. The samples were then stained using primary rabbit anti-human neutrophil elastase antibodies, secondary goat anti-rabbit fluorophore conjugated antibodies and DAPI - a fluorescently labelled dye that stains DNA (See the Table of Materials for details). A minimum of 5 images were then acquired using an epifluorescenc.......

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NET formation is a relatively recent addition to the diverse neutrophil armamentarium4 and there has been a noticeable surge of interest to study the implication of NETs in a wide array of research areas5,7,14,15. Acquisition of images using Immunofluorescence microscopy and subsequent image-based quantification is a widely used method to quantify NETs. This approach has.......

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The work was funded by the Crafoord Foundation (TM and PN), Swedish Government Research grant (PN, TM), Swedish research council (PN) and Groschinsky Foundation (TM, PN).

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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
BD Vacutainer Heparinised plastic tubes BD Biosciences 367885
Lymphoprep Axis-Shield 114547
RPMI-1640 with L-Glutamine Gibco 11835-030
50mL conical flasks Sarstedt 62.547.004
15mL conical flasks Sarstedt 62.554.002
12-well Tissue culture plates Falcon 10626491
#1 Coverslips 10mm Menzel Glaser CS10100
Glass slides Menzel Glaser 631-0098
Primary anti-human elastase DAKO DAKO rabbit 1373, contract immunization
Secondary fluorophore conjugated goat anti-rabbit Life technologies A-11072, A-11070
PROLONG-Gold Antifade reagent with DAPI Life technologies P36930 Mounting medium
Goat serum Sigma-Aldrich G9023
Phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA) Sigma-Aldrich 79346
Paraformaldehyde Sigma-Aldrich 158127
Triton X-100 Sigma-Aldrich T8787
Nikon Ti-E Epifluorescence microscope Nikon
CCD camera Andor Zyla
Plan Apochromat 20x, 40x objectives Nikon
Windows 10 Microsoft Operating system
macOS Sierra 10.12 Apple Operating system
MATLAB Mathworks

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  13. Mohanty, T., Sorensen, O. E., Nordenfelt, P. NETQUANT: Automated Quantification of Neutrophil Extracellular Traps. Frontiers in Immunology. 8, 1999 (2017).
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