Journal of biomedical optics

Differences in forward angular light scattering distributions between M1 and M2 macrophages.

PMID 26538329


The ability to distinguish macrophage subtypes noninvasively could have diagnostic potential in cancer, atherosclerosis, and diabetes, where polarized M1 and M2 macrophages play critical and often opposing roles. Current methods to distinguish macrophage subtypes rely on tissue biopsy. Optical imaging techniques based on light scattering are of interest as they can be translated into biopsy-free strategies. Because mitochondria are relatively strong subcellular light scattering centers, and M2 macrophages are known to have enhanced mitochondrial biogenesis compared to M1, we hypothesized that M1 and M2 macrophages may have different angular light scattering profiles. To test this, we developed an in vitro angle-resolved forward light scattering measurement system. We found that M1 and M2 macrophage monolayers scatter relatively unequal amounts of light in the forward direction between 1.6 deg and 3.2 deg with M2 forward scattering significantly more light than M1 at increasing angles. The ratio of forward scattering can be used to identify the polarization state of macrophage populations in culture.