On-chip evaluation of neutrophil activation and neutrophil-endothelial cell interaction during neutrophil chemotaxis

Donghyuk Kim, Christy L. Haynes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Neutrophils are always surrounded by/interacting with other components of the immune system; however, the current mechanistic understanding of neutrophil function is largely based on how neutrophils respond to a single chemical signal in a simplified environment. Such approaches are unable to recapitulate the in vivo microenvironment; thus, cell behavior may not fully represent the physiological behavior. Herein, we exploit a microfluidic model of the complex in vivo milieu to investigate how cell-cell interactions influence human neutrophil migration and surface marker expression. Neutrophil migration against a bacterially derived chemoattractant (formyl-met-leu-phe, fMLP), with and without preactivation by interleukins (interleukin-2 or interleukin-6), was evaluated in the presence and absence of endothelial support cells. Preactivation by interleukins or interaction with endothelial cells resulted in altered migration rates compared to naÏve neutrophils, and migration trajectories deviated from the expected movement toward the fMLP signal. Interestingly, interaction with both interleukins and endothelial cells simultaneously resulted in a slight compensation in the deviation - on endothelial cells, 34.4% of untreated neutrophils moved away from the fMLP signal, while only 15.2 or 22.2% (interleukin-2-or interleukin-6-activated) of preactivated cells moved away from fMLP. Neutrophils interacting with interleukins and/or endothelial cells were still capable of prioritizing the fMLP signal over a competing chemoattractant, leukotriene B4 (LTB4). Fluorescence imaging of individual human neutrophils revealed that neutrophils treated with endothelial-cell-conditioned media showed up-regulation of the surface adhesion molecules cluster determinant 11b and 66b (CD11b and CD66b) upon stimulation. On the other hand, CD11b and CD66b down-regulation was observed in untreated neutrophils. These results leverage single cell analysis to reveal that the interaction between neutrophils and endothelial cells is involved in surface marker regulation and thus chemotaxis of neutrophils. This study brings new knowledge about neutrophil chemotaxis in the context of cell-to-cell communications, yielding both fundamental and therapeutically relevant insight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)10787-10796
Number of pages10
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Issue number22
StatePublished - Nov 19 2013


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