New and improved methods for measuring lymphocyte proliferation in vitro and in vivo using CFSE-like fluorescent dyes.J Immunol Methods. 2012 May 31; 379(1-2):1-14.JI
The use of carboxyfluorescein diacetate succinimidyl ester (CFSE) to measure lymphocyte proliferation by flow cytometry has become one of the most widely utilised assays for assessing lymphocyte responses. The properties of CFSE make it ideal for such a task, covalently labelling cells with a long-lived fluorescence of high intensity and low variance with minimal cell toxicity. No dye in the last 20 years has been capable of replicating CFSE in these respects. However, currently CFSE is limited to following a maximum of 7 cell divisions and is not compatible for use with ubiquitously available fluorescein conjugates or other fluorescent molecules with spectral properties similar to fluorescein, such as EGFP. Here we characterise two new fluorescent dyes for measuring lymphocyte proliferation, Cell Trace Violet (CTV) and Cell Proliferation Dye eFluor 670 (CPD), which have different excitation and emission spectra to CFSE and, consequently, are compatible with fluorescein conjugates. We found that while both CTV and CPD can label cells to a high fluorescence intensity, which is long-lived and has low variability and low toxicity and makes them ideal for long-term tracking of non-dividing lymphocytes in vivo, CTV offers possibly the best available alternative to CFSE in the analysis of cell divisions. We also describe how intercellular dye transfer and cell autofluorescence can affect division resolution with the three different dyes and describe labelling conditions for the three dyes that produce ultra-bright lymphocytes for in vivo tracking studies and allow up to 11 cell divisions to be detected when using CFSE and CTV as the fluorescent dyes.