The innate immune system is activated in a number of degenerative and inflammatory retinal disorders such as age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Retinal microglia, choroidal macrophages, and recruited monocytes, collectively termed 'retinal mononuclear phagocytes', are critical determinants of ocular disease outcome. Many publications have described the presence of these cells in mouse models for retinal disease; however, only limited aspects of their behavior have been uncovered, and these have only been uncovered using a single detection method. The workflow presented here describes a comprehensive analysis strategy that allows characterization of retinal mononuclear phagocytes in vivo and in situ. We present standardized working steps for scanning laser ophthalmoscopy of microglia from MacGreen reporter mice (mice expressing the macrophage colony-stimulating factor receptor GFP transgene throughout the mononuclear phagocyte system), quantitative analysis of Iba1-stained retinal sections and flat mounts, CD11b-based retinal flow cytometry, and qRT-PCR analysis of key microglia markers. The protocol can be completed within 3 d, and we present data from retinas treated with laser-induced choroidal neovascularization (CNV), bright white-light exposure, and Fam161a-associated inherited retinal degeneration. The assays can be applied to any of the existing mouse models for retinal disorders and may be valuable for documenting immune responses in studies for immunomodulatory therapies.
- Journal Article