Although mutations of the dystrophin gene are the causative defect in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients, secondary disease processes such as inflammation contribute greatly to the pathogenesis of DMD. Genetic and histological studies have shown that distinct facets of the immune system promote muscle degeneration or regeneration during muscular dystrophy through mechanisms that are only beginning to be defined. Although histological methods have allowed the enumeration and localization of immune cells within dystrophic muscle, they are limited in their ability to assess the full spectrum of phenotypic states of an immune cell population and its functional characteristics. This chapter highlights flow cytometry methods for the isolation and functional study of immune cell populations from muscle of the mdx mouse model of DMD. We include a detailed description of preparing single-cell suspensions of dystrophic muscle that maintain the integrity of cell-surface markers used to identify macrophages, eosinophils, group 2 innate lymphoid cells, and regulatory T cells. This method complements the battery of histological assays that are currently used to study the role of inflammation in muscular dystrophy, and provides a platform capable of being integrated with multiple downstream methodologies for the mechanistic study of immunity in muscle degenerative diseases.
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We thank Chairut Vareechon for critical reviewing of this chapter, and for his insightful comments.
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