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Heterogeneity of respiratory dendritic cell subsets and lymphocyte populations in inbred mouse strains

Holger Hackstein1*, Andreas Wachtendorf1, Sabine Kranz1, Jürgen Lohmeyer2, Gregor Bein1 and Nelli Baal1

Author Affiliations

1 Institute for Clinical Immunology and Transfusion Medicine, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Member of the German Center for Lung Research, Langhansstr 7, D-35390, Giessen, Germany

2 Department of Internal Medicine II, University of Giessen Lung Center, Klinikstrasse 36, D-35392, Giessen, Germany

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Respiratory Research 2012, 13:94  doi:10.1186/1465-9921-13-94

Published: 15 October 2012



Inbred mouse strains are used in different models of respiratory diseases but the variation of critical respiratory leukocyte subpopulations across different strains is unknown.


By using multiparameter flow cytometry we have quantitated respiratory leukocyte subsets including dendritic cells subpopulations, macrophages, classical T and B cells, natural killer cells, γδTCR+ T cells and lineage-negative leukocytes in the five most common inbred mouse strains BALB/c, C57BL/6, DBA/2, 129SV and C3H. To minimize confounding environmental factors, age-matched animals were received from the same provider and were housed under identical specific-pathogen-free conditions.


Results revealed significant strain differences with respect to respiratory neutrophils (p=0.005; up to 1.4 fold differences versus C57BL/6 mice), eosinophils (p=0.029; up to 2.7 fold), certain dendritic cell subsets (p≤0.0003; up to 3.4 fold), T (p<0.001; up to 1.6 fold) and B lymphocyte subsets (p=0.005; up to 0.4 fold), γδ T lymphocytes (p=0.003; up to 1.6 fold), natural killer cells (p<0.0001; up to 0.6 fold) and lineage-negative innate leukocytes (p≤0.007; up to 3.6 fold). In contrast, total respiratory leukocytes, macrophages, total dendritic cells and bronchoalveolar lavage leukocytes did not differ significantly. Stimulation of respiratory leukocytes via Toll-like receptor 4 and 9 as well as CD3/CD28 revealed significant strain differences of TNF-α and IL-10 production.


Our study demonstrates significant strain heterogeneity of respiratory leukocyte subsets that may impact respiratory immunity in different disease models. Additionally, the results may help identification of optimal strains for purification of rare respiratory leukocyte subsets for ex vivo analyses.