ABSTRACT: The development of polychromatic cytometry has contributed to significant progress in the field of human immunology. Although numerous functional studies of rare cell populations have been performed using this technology, here we used polychromatic cytometry to explore the dynamics of complex cellular systems implicated in innate immunity. We used PBMC stimulated with live influenza virus as an experimental model. We studied the time course of activation of PBMC, which contain DC, monocytes, and NK cells, all of which are, in addition to their innate immune properties, susceptible to Flu infection. We developed 12 color panels to investigate intracellular expression of IFN-α, TNF-α, IL-12, IL-6, IFN-γ, CD107, and influenza virus nucleoprotein simultaneously in these cell populations. These panels allowed reproducible determination of activation markers induced in DC after their direct exposure to various stimulations or in NK cells by indirect DC-mediated activation within the complex cellular environment. The ability to use a low number of cells and reduced quantities of reagents permitted us to perform kinetic experiments. The power of polychromatic cytometry associated with bioinformatic tools allowed us to analyze the multiple functional data generated as dynamic clustering maps. These maps present a readily understandable view of activation events induced in different populations of PBMC. In addition, it reveals new information on the coordination of the complex pathways induced and on the cellular interactions that sustained indirect DC-mediated NK cell activation. Our work shows that polychromatic cytometry is a tool for discoveries in unexplored complex cell systems, at the crossroads of immunology and virology. © 2012 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry.
Cytometry Part A 01/2012; 81(4):332-42. · 3.73 Impact Factor