Journal of immunological methods

Determination of lymph flow in murine oral mucosa using depot clearance of near-infrared-labeled albumin.

PMID 26141254


The lymphatic vessels are playing an important role in inflammation since they return extravasated fluid, proteins, and cells back into the circulation and regulate immune cell trafficking. The oral mucosa, including gingiva, is well supplied with lymphatic vessels and is frequently challenged with inflammatory insults. Lymphatic vessels in gingiva protect against periodontal disease development, but quantification of lymph flow in this area has so far never been performed, due to lack of reliable methods. Mice of FVB strain (n=17) were anesthetized with isoflurane and placed on a jaw retraction board allowing the mouth to be kept open and stable. Albumin conjugated with Alexa680-fluorochrome (with or without LPS from Porphyromonas gingivalis) was injected superficially in oral mucosa mesio-buccal to the left first molar in each mouse. 60 min post-injection the mouse was transferred to an OptixMX3 optical imager where the total fluorescence was measured in the posterior facial area. The measurements continued further every 60 min for 7h for each mouse. The mice were awake and active between measurements. The in vivo washout of Alexa680-albumin was calculated using the natural logarithm of the relative values creating a negative slope for each mouse. Statistical analysis of variance was performed. The injection and distribution site for tracer was verified with India ink and shown to be in the interstitium below the oral mucosal epithelium, in an area well supplied with initial lymphatic vessels. Washout of the tracer Alexa680-albumin was log-linear, and the basal lymph flow calculated from depot clearance averaged -0.28 ± 0.08%/min (n=8). The clearance was significantly faster (-0.30 ± 0.08%/min, n=9) in acutely inflamed oral mucosa (p=0.0326). We developed a method that can successfully quantify the lymph flow in oral mucosa in steady state conditions and under acute perturbation. By use of this method, new information about the lymphatic function in oral mucosa during physiological and pathological conditions can be achieved.