Cancer Research UK identifies novel role for CD169+ macrophages in activating Invariant Natural Killer T Cells

(Nanowerk News) Dr Patricia Barral and her colleagues study the cellular and molecular mechanisms controlling lymphocyte activation and eventual fate. Knowledge of these processes is invaluable not only in increasing our understanding of the causes of cancer but also in the treatment and prevention of infectious and autoimmune diseases. The Lymphocyte Interaction Laboratory was the first team to establish a role for a group of macrophages in acquiring antigen and presenting intact antigen to follicular B cells in lymph nodes in vivo. Now, they have identified a novel role for CD169+ macrophages in activating Invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) cells.
Using Bitplane Imaris, the world's leading 3D/4D image visualization and analysis software, Barral and her co-workers transformed image stacks acquired from multi-photon examination of the lymph nodes into volume-rendered 4-D movies for analysis. Cell movement was automatically tracked and the Imaris software also calculated average and instantaneous cell speeds together with displacement and the confinement index. Imaris was also able to demonstrate the confinement of the iNKT cells in the vicinity of the CD169+ macrophages following administration of particulate lipid antigen by reconstructing the lymph nodes in three dimensions.
Tracking of natural killer T cells in lymph node using Imaris
Tracking of natural killer T cells in lymph node using Imaris. Invariant natural killer T cells (red) were adoptively transferred into wild-type recipients with wild-type B cells (blue). Lipid antigen (green) was injected 16 h after adoptive transfer. Invariant natural killer T cells are confined in the lymph node periphery in response to lipid antigen and get arrested around antigen-rich areas. A 3-D reconstruction of a lymph node region is shown with the tracks of natural killer T cells (pale red) and B cells (blue) during a 20-minute imaging period.
In these studies, the research team successfully used Imaris to visualize the long-standing interactions between CD169+ macrophages and iNKT cells and found very fast iNKT activation and cytokine secretion. These processes are probably very important factors during the early stages of immune responses and host defence.
"Imaris offers life scientists a uniquely powerful and versatile solution for the visualization, analysis and interpretation of 3-D and 4-D images," says Marcin Barszczewski at Bitplane. "Fast, precise and easy-to-use, Imaris accepts images from almost all wide field and confocal microscopes and combines with a range of seven specialist modules for additional flexibility, such as MeasurementPro, Track, Coloc and FilamentTracer."
To learn more about scientific image analysis and characterization using Imaris software, and access our comprehensive applications area, please visit the Bitplane website (
P. Barral, P. Polzella, A. Bruckbauer, N. van Rooijen, G. S. Besra, V. Cerundolo & F. D. Batista "CD169+ macrophages present lipid antigens to mediate early activation of iNKT cells in lymph nodes," Nature J. of Immunology 11(4), 303-312 (2010)
About Bitplane
Bitplane, the world's leading Interactive Microscopy Image analysis software company, was founded in 1992 and operates out of two offices: one in Zurich, Switzerland, and one in Saint Paul, MN, USA. Customers in all parts of the world are served with direct representation in the US, Canada, China and Europe and through partner organizations in Asia and Australia. Through constant innovation and a clear focus on 3D & 4D imaging, Bitplane actively shapes the way scientists process microscopic images. More information may be found at the Bitplane website (
Bitplane was acquired by Andor Technology plc. in 2009. Andor is a world leader in Scientific Imaging, Spectroscopy Solutions and Microscopy Systems, employing over 260 people in 16 offices worldwide, distributing its portfolio of over 70 products to 10,000 customers in 55 countries. Andor's vast product portfolio and experience brings the capacity and system knowledge to further expand the technological developments from Bitplane. More information about Andor Technology PLC is available at the company's website (
Source: Andor Technology (press release)
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