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J Immunol Methods. 1994 Oct 14;175(2):201-13.

Quantification of superantigen induced IFN-gamma production by computerised image analysis--inhibition of cytokine production and blast transformation by pooled human IgG.

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Department of Immunology, Arrhenius Laboratories for Natural Sciences, Stockholm University, Sweden.


A quantitative image analysis technique was developed to assess the cytokine content of immunocytochemically stained cytokine producing cells. Peripheral blood mononuclear cells were stimulated to induce cytokine production with the superantigen streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin-A. We have developed a method based on indirect immunocytochemistry which identifies IFN-gamma producing cells by a characteristic morphology generated by the accumulation of IFN-gamma in the Golgi organelle. An image analysis technique permitted discrimination between these producer cells and IFN-gamma binding target cells, which showed a different appearance, with staining restricted to the cell surface membrane. A semi-automated routine programme allowed the signal from a video camera to be processed by computerised image analysis methodology. This enabled us to measure the number of cytokine producing cells, the cytokine staining intensity in individual cells and the cell size expressed in actual cell area. The incidence of IFN-gamma producing cells determined by image analysis measurement was compared to results obtained using manual microscopy. Cell size was assessed by the image analysis system as well as by flow cytometry. Administration of pooled human IgG for intravenous use (IVIg) to the superantigen stimulated cells significantly down-regulated IFN-gamma production, both in terms of the numbers of producer cells and in terms of cytokine staining intensity in individual cells. In addition blast transformation of cells was substantially reduced. These effects, mediated by IVIg, were also evident following delayed IVIg administration 24 h after the initial cell stimulation.

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