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J Immunol Methods. 2009 Oct 31;350(1-2):125-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2009.09.001. Epub 2009 Sep 10.

Validity of multiplex-based assays for cytokine measurements in serum and plasma from "non-diseased" subjects: comparison with ELISA.

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Division of Cancer Epidemiology, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, Heidelberg 69120, Germany.


Multiplex-based immunoassays (MIA) allow the simultaneous measurement of different cytokines in small sample volumes, but their applicability in samples from "healthy" subjects, as those participating in large-scale epidemiological studies is not well known. We compared measurements of interleukin-6 (IL-6), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-1beta (IL-1beta), interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1Ra), C-reactive protein (CRP) and soluble CD40L (sCD40L) obtained by MIA with those obtained by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) in serum and plasma samples from 36 "healthy" subjects. We observed good correlations between measurements obtained by MIA and ELISA for IL-1Ra, CRP and sCD40L (r>0.80) but poor correlations for IL-6, TNF-alpha and IL-1beta (r<0.40). When comparing MIA plasma and serum measurements, very high correlations were obtained for CRP (r=0.98) and fairly good correlations for IL-1Ra (r=0.60). In conclusion, multiplex-based assays can give an accurate estimate of the relative risk in large-scale epidemiological studies but only for cytokines that are present in relatively large concentrations (ng/mL).

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