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J Immunol Methods. 1991 Jun 3;139(2):191-5.

Evaluation of a test system for measuring cytokine production in human whole blood cell cultures.

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  • 1Institute of Immunobiology, University of Freiburg, F.R.G.


A simple and reproducible method is described for the measurement of mitogen-induced cytokine production in cultures of both human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) and whole blood. In the culture supernatants the cytokines interleukin-1 alpha (IL-1 alpha), interleukin-2 (IL-2), interferon-gamma (IFN-gamma) and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) were determined by a rapid and sensitive immunoassay using various monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies. Comparing the PBMC cultures with the whole blood system a good correlation was obtained if the cell number was taken into account. In the post-induction supernatants the cytokine values were found to follow typical kinetic curves. The protocol was evaluated by screening 60 cancer patients with primary disease and 60 healthy controls. A markedly reduced secretion of IFN-gamma and IL-1 alpha was found in the cancer patients compared to controls, although leukocyte and lymphocyte counts were almost identical in both groups.

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