Imaging Flow Cytometry Protocols for Examining Phagocytosis of Microplastics and Bioparticles by Immune Cells of Aquatic Animals

Park, Youngjin; Abihssira-García, Isabel S.; Thalmann, Sebastian; Wiegertjes, Geert F.; Barreda, Daniel R.; Olsvik, Pål A.; Kiron, Viswanath


Imaging flow cytometry (IFC) is a powerful tool which combines flow cytometry with digital microscopy to generate quantitative high-throughput imaging data. Despite various advantages of IFC over standard flow cytometry, widespread adoption of this technology for studies in aquatic sciences is limited, probably due to the relatively high equipment cost, complexity of image analysis-based data interpretation and lack of core facilities with trained personnel. Here, we describe the application of IFC to examine phagocytosis of particles including microplastics by cells from aquatic animals. For this purpose, we studied (1) live/dead cell assays and identification of cell types, (2) phagocytosis of degradable and non-degradable particles by Atlantic salmon head kidney cells and (3) the effect of incubation temperature on phagocytosis of degradable particles in three aquatic animals-Atlantic salmon, Nile tilapia, and blue mussel. The usefulness of the developed method was assessed by evaluating the effect of incubation temperature on phagocytosis. Our studies demonstrate that IFC provides significant benefits over standard flow cytometry in phagocytosis measurement by allowing integration of morphometric parameters, especially while identifying cell populations and distinguishing between different types of fluorescent particles and detecting their localization.