Isolation, characterization, and purification of macrophages from tissues affected by obesity-related inflammation

Joselyn N. Allen, Adwitia Dey, Ruth Nissly, James Fraser, Shan Yu, Gayathri Balandaram, Jeffrey M. Peters, Pamela A. Hankey-Giblin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Obesity promotes a chronic inflammatory state that is largely mediated by tissue-resident macrophages as well as monocyte-derived macrophages. Diet-induced obesity (DIO) is a valuable model in studying the role of macrophage heterogeneity; however, adequate macrophage isolations are difficult to acquire from inflamed tissues. In this protocol, we outline the isolation steps and necessary troubleshooting guidelines derived from our studies for obtaining a suitable population of tissue-resident macrophages from mice following 18 weeks of high-fat (HFD) or high-fat/high-cholesterol (HFHCD) diet intervention. This protocol focuses on three hallmark tissues studied in obesity and atherosclerosis including the liver, white adipose tissues (WAT), and the aorta. We highlight how dualistic usage of flow cytometry can achieve a new dimension of isolation and characterization of tissue-resident macrophages. A fundamental section of this protocol addresses the intricacies underlying tissue-specific enzymatic digestions and macrophage isolation, and subsequent cell-surface antibody staining for flow cytometric analysis. This protocol addresses existing complexities underlying fluorescent-activated cell sorting (FACS) and presents clarifications to these complexities so as to obtain broad range characterization from adequately sorted cell populations. Alternate enrichment methods are included for sorting cells, such as the dense liver, allowing for flexibility and time management when working with FACS. In brief, this protocol aids the researcher to evaluate macrophage heterogeneity from a multitude of inflamed tissues in a given study and provides insightful troubleshooting tips that have been successful for favorable cellular isolation and characterization of immune cells in DIO-mediated inflammation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere55445
JournalJournal of Visualized Experiments
Issue number122
StatePublished - Apr 3 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Immunology and Microbiology(all)


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