Investigation of the response of tear-film neutrophils to interleukin 8 and their sensitivity to centrifugation, fixation, and incubation Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • AbstractDuring eye closure, a large number of neutrophils (polymorphonuclear neutrophils, PMNs) invade the ocular surface and are often referred to as tear-film PMNs. While immunophenotyping experiments have been performed on tear-film PMNs, the impact of commonly used experimental procedures on their phenotype as well as their response to interleukin-8 (IL-8), a physiological inflammatory mediator, have not yet been investigated. A gentle eye wash method was used to collect cells at home. In the morning upon awaking, participants washed their eyes with sterile phosphate buffer saline (PBS) and collected the runoff into a sterile polypropylene tube. The cell collection was then delivered to the lab within two hours. The effects of centrifugation, incubation and fixation with paraformaldehyde (PFA) before (pre-fixed staining) or after (post-fixed staining) incubation with antibodies were characterized. Tear-film PMNs as well as blood PMNs (used for comparison) were also stimulated with IL-8. To assess the reproducibility of cell collection and variability in receptor expression over time, participants were also asked to collect cells three times over a period of a month. The change in expression of surface receptors, CD11b, CD16, CD55, CD66b, important inflammatory and activation markers, and CD45 (PAN leukocyte marker) was assessed by flow cytometry. Fixing tear-film PMNs prior to the staining with antibodies resulted in a significant (fivefold or more) reduction in the expression of CD11b, CD16 and CD45 when compared to unfixed samples, while CD16 was the only receptor to undergo significant downregulation upon post-staining fixation. Furthermore, additional centrifugation step prior to antibody incubation as well as long (4 h) incubation at 37 °C resulted in significant reductions in expression of CD11b, CD16 and CD55 when compared to control samples. As opposed to blood PMNs, stimulating tear-film PMNs with IL-8 did not induce any significant changes in expression of CD11b, CD16, CD55 and CD66b. When working with collected tear-film PMNs, our results suggest that any additional centrifugation and incubation step should be avoided, or at least limited, and post fixation staining is recommended in order to preserve cell phenotype and cell integrity of tear film PMNs. Our study also adds further information on the reproducibility of the gentle eye wash as well as the inability of tear-film PMNs to modulate their surface receptors upon stimulation with IL-8. The latter may be due to prior exposure to IL-8, activation in the closed-eye environment, or a reduced ability to respond to inflammatory stimulus. Further mechanistic studies will be needed to gain a better understanding of the tear-film neutrophil phenotype.

publication date

  • December 2020