Immune cells show distinct motion patterns that change upon inflammatory stimuli. Monocytes patrol the vasculature to screen for pathogens, thereby exerting an early task of innate immunity. Here, we aimed to non-invasively analyse single patrolling monocyte behaviour upon inflammatory stimuli.
We used time-lapse Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) of the murine brain to dynamically track single patrolling monocytes within the circulation distant to the actual site of inflammation in different inflammatory conditions, ranging from a subcutaneous pellet model to severe peritonitis and bacteraemia.
Single patrolling immune cells with a velocity of <1 µm/s could be detected and followed dynamically using time-lapse MRI. We show, that due to local and systemic stimuli the slowly patrolling behaviour of monocytes is altered systemically and differs with type, duration and strength of the underlying stimulus.
Using time-lapse MRI, it is now possible to investigate the behaviour of single circulating monocytes over the course of the systemic immune response. Monocyte patrolling behaviour is altered systemically even before the onset of clinical symptoms distant to and depending on the underlying inflammatory stimulus.
This study was supported by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation) – CRC 1009 – 194468054 to AZ, CF and – CRC 1450 – 431460824 to MM, SN, HB, AZ, CF, the Joachim Herz Foundation (Add-on Fellowship for Interdisciplinary Life Sciences to MM), the Interdisciplinary Centre for Clinical Research (IZKF, core unit PIX) and the Medical Faculty of the University of Muenster (MEDK fellowship to FF and IF).

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