Quantitative 3D Imaging of Trypanosoma cruzi-Infected Cells, Dormant Amastigotes, and T Cells in Intact Clarified Organs

Chagas disease is a neglected pathology that affects millions of people worldwide, mainly in Latin America. The Chagas disease agent, Trypanosoma cruzi (T. cruzi), is an obligate intracellular parasite with a diverse biology that infects several mammalian species, including humans, causing cardiac and digestive pathologies. Reliable detection of T. cruzi in vivo infections has long been needed to understand Chagas disease’s complex biology and accurately evaluate the outcome of treatment regimens. The current protocol demonstrates an integrated pipeline for automated quantification of T. cruzi-infected cells in 3D-reconstructed, cleared organs. Light-sheet fluorescent microscopy allows for accurately visualizing and quantifying of actively proliferating and dormant T. cruzi parasites and immune effector cells in whole organs or tissues. Also, the CUBIC-HistoVision pipeline to obtain uniform labeling of cleared organs with antibodies and nuclear stains was successfully adopted. Tissue clearing coupled with 3D immunostaining provides an unbiased approach to comprehensively evaluate drug treatment protocols, improve the understanding of the cellular organization of T. cruzi-infected tissues, and is expected to advance discoveries related to anti-T. cruzi immune responses, tissue damage, and repair in Chagas disease.

Fernando Sanchez-Valdez, Ángel M Padilla, Juan M Bustamante, Caleb W D Hawkins, Rick L Tarleton. J Vis Exp. 2022 Jun 23;(184). doi: 10.3791/63919.

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