Assessment of lymphocyte migration in an ex vivo transmigration system

Kristi J. Warren, Todd A. Wyatt

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Herein, we present an efficient method that can be executed with basic laboratory skills and materials to assess lymphocyte chemokinetic movement in an ex vivo transmigration system. Group 2 innate lymphoid cells (ILC2) and CD4+ T helper cells were isolated from spleens and lungs of chicken egg ovalbumin (OVA)-challenged BALB/c mice. We confirmed the expression of CCR4 on both CD4+ T cells and ILC2, comparatively. CCL17 and CCL22 are the known ligands for CCR4; therefore, using this ex vivo transmigration method we examined CCL17-and CCL22-induced movement of CCR4+ lymphocytes. To establish chemokine gradients, CCL17 and CCL22 were placed in the bottom chamber of the transmigration system. Isolated lymphocytes were then added to top chambers and over a 48 h period the lymphocytes actively migrated through 3 µm pores towards the chemokine in the bottom chamber. This is an effective system for determining the chemokinetics of lymphocytes, but, understandably, does not mimic the complexities found in the in vivo organ microenvironments. This is one limitation of the method that can be overcome by the addition of in situ imaging of the organ and lymphocytes under study. In contrast, the advantage of this method is that is can be performed by an entry-level technician at a much more cost-effective rate than live imaging. As therapeutic compounds become available to enhance migration, as in the case of tumor infiltrating cytotoxic immune cells, or to inhibit migration, perhaps in the case of autoimmune diseases where immunopathology is of concern, this method can be used as a screening tool. In general, the method is effective if the chemokine of interest is consistently generating chemokinetics at a statistically higher level than the media control. In such cases, the degree of inhibition/enhancement by a given compound can be determined as well.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere60060
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number151
StatePublished - 2019


  • CCL17 (C-C Motif Chemokine 17)/TARC (thymus and activation related chemokine)
  • CCL22 (C-C Motif Chemokine 22)/MDC (Macrophage-derived chemokine)
  • CCR4 (CC Chemokine Receptor 4)
  • CD4 T cell (CD4+ T helper cell)/Th2 cell
  • ILC2: (Group 2 Innate Lymphoid Cell)
  • Immunology and Infection
  • Issue 151
  • OVA (Chicken Egg Ovalbumin)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Chemical Engineering
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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