Optimized protocols for isolation, fixation, and flow cytometric characterization of leukocytes in ischemic hearts

Roman Covarrubias, Mohamed Ameen Ismahil, Gregg Rokosh, Tariq Hamid, Federica Accornero, Harpreet Singh, Richard J. Gumina, Sumanth D. Prabhu, Shyam S. Bansal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Immune activation post-myocardial infarction is an orchestrated sequence of cellular responses to effect tissue repair and healing. However, excessive and dysregulated inflammation can result in left ventricular remodeling and pathological alterations in the structural and mechanical attributes of the heart. Identification of key pathways and critical cellular mediators of inflammation is thus essential to design immunomodulatory therapies for myocardial infarction and ischemic heart failure. Despite this, the experimental approaches to isolate mononuclear cells from the heart are diverse, and detailed protocols to enable maximum yield of live cells in the shortest time possible are not readily available. Here, we describe optimized protocols for the isolation, fixation, and flow cytometric characterization of cardiac CD45+ leukocytes. These protocols circumvent time-consuming coronary perfusion and density-mediated cell-separation steps, resulting in high cellular yields from cardiac digests devoid of contaminating intravascular cells. Moreover, in contrast to methanol and acetone, we show that cell fixation using 1% paraformaldehyde is most optimal as it does not affect antibody binding or cellular morphology, thereby providing a considerable advantage to study activation/infiltration-associated changes in cellular granularity and size. These are highly versatile methods that can easily be streamlined for studies requiring simultaneous isolation of immune cells from different tissues or deployment in studies containing a large cohort of samples with time-sensitive constraints.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)H658-H666
JournalAmerican Journal of Physiology - Heart and Circulatory Physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2019


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