The phagocytic state of brain myeloid cells after ischemia revealed by superresolution structured illumination microscopy

Stefano Fumagalli, Fabio Fiordaliso, Carlo Perego, Alessandro Corbelli, Alessandro Mariani, Massimiliano De Paola, Maria-Grazia De Simoni

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Phagocytosis is a key function of myeloid cells and is highly involved in brain ischemic injury. It has been scarcely studied in vivo, thus preventing a deep knowledge of the processes occurring in the ischemic environment. Structured illumination microscopy (SIM) is a superresolution technique which helps study phagocytosis, a process involving the recruitment of vesicles sized below the resolution limits of standard confocal microscopy.

METHODS: Mice underwent permanent occlusion of the middle cerebral artery and were sacrificed at 48 h or 7 days after insult. Immunofluorescence for CD11b, myeloid cell membrane marker, and CD68, lysosomal marker was done in the ischemic area. Images were acquired using a SIM system and verified with SIM check. Lysosomal distribution was measured in the ischemic area by the gray level co-occurrence matrix (GLCM). SIM dataset was compared with transmission electron microscopy images of macrophages in the ischemic tissue at the same time points. Cultured microglia were stimulated with LPS to uptake 100 nm fluorescent beads and imaged by time-lapse SIM. GLCM was used to analyze bead distribution over the cytoplasm.

RESULTS: SIM images reached a resolution of 130 nm and passed the quality control diagnose, ruling out possible artifacts. After ischemia, GLCM applied to the CD68 images showed that myeloid cells at 48 h had higher angular second moment (ASM), inverse difference moment (IDM), and lower entropy than myeloid cells at 7 days indicating higher lysosomal clustering at 48 h. At this time point, lysosomal clustering was proximal (< 700 nm) to the cell membrane indicating active target internalization, while at 7 days, it was perinuclear, consistent with final stages of phagocytosis or autophagy. Electron microscopy images indicated a similar pattern of lysosomal distribution thus validating the SIM dataset. GLCM on time-lapse SIM from phagocytic microglia cultures revealed a temporal decrease in ASM and IDM and increase in entropy, as beads were uptaken, indicating that GLCM informs on the progression of phagocytosis.

CONCLUSIONS: GLCM analysis on SIM dataset quantitatively described different phases of macrophage phagocytic behavior revealing the dynamics of lysosomal movements in the ischemic brain indicating initial active internalization vs. final digestion/autophagy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9
JournalJournal of Neuroinflammation
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 16 2019


  • Animals
  • Animals, Newborn
  • Antigens, CD/metabolism
  • Antigens, Differentiation, Myelomonocytic/metabolism
  • Brain/diagnostic imaging
  • CD11b Antigen/metabolism
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Infarction, Middle Cerebral Artery/diagnostic imaging
  • Lipopolysaccharides/pharmacology
  • Lysosomes/pathology
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Microglia/drug effects
  • Microscopy, Electron, Transmission
  • Myeloid Cells/physiology
  • Optical Imaging/methods
  • Phagocytosis/physiology
  • Spinal Cord/cytology
  • Time Factors


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