Imaging immune response of skin mast cells in vivo with two-photon microscopy
Intravital multiphoton microscopy has provided insightful information of the dynamic process of immune cells in vivo. However, the use of exogenous labeling agents limits its applications. There is no method to perform functional imaging of mast cells, a population of innate tissue-resident immune cells. Mast cells are widely recognized as the effector cells in allergy. Recently their roles as immunoregulatory cells in certain innate and adaptive immune responses are being actively investigated. Here we report in vivo mouse skin mast cells imaging with two-photon microscopy using endogenous tryptophan as the fluorophore. We studied the following processes. 1) Mast cells degranulation, the first step in the mast cell activation process in which the granules are released into peripheral tissue to trigger downstream reactions. 2) Mast cell reconstitution, a procedure commonly used to study mast cells functioning by comparing the data from wild type mice, mast cell-deficient mice, and mast-cell deficient mice reconstituted with bone marrow-derived mast cells (BMMCs). Imaging the BMMCs engraftment in tissue reveals the mast cells development and the efficiency of BMMCs reconstitution. We observed the reconstitution process for 6 weeks in the ear skin of mast cell-deficient Kit wsh/w-sh mice by two-photon imaging. Our finding is the first instance of imaging mast cells in vivo with endogenous contrast.