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Clin Diagn Lab Immunol. 2002 Mar;9(2):295-8.

Influence of specimen age and use of different negative controls in determination of intracytoplasmic levels of cytokines after whole-blood culture assay.

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Department of Pediatrics, Medical University of Lübeck, Lübeck, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Clin Diagn Lab Immunol 2002 May;9(3):738.


Intracytoplasmic detection of cytokines by flow cytometry has become a powerful tool in the characterization of cytokine-producing cells. However, it is not known to what extent specimen age and the use of various negative controls may influence the amount of cytokine-positive cells. We therefore compared different times of storage and the use of several negative controls in the determination of intracytoplasmic levels of cytokines. There was a substantial decline of interleukin-2- and gamma interferon-positive lymphocytes after 20 h and especially after 48 h of storage. The precision of intracytoplasmic interleukin-6 determination decreases after long-term storage compared to 2 h of storage, whereas the amount of interleukin-8-positive monocytes remained rather stable. Therefore, we recommend performing the analysis as fast as possible after the blood sample is drawn. Under consideration of isotype-matched antibodies and nonstimulated cells as negative controls instead of the purified antibody-blocking control, strikingly higher amounts of interleukin-2-, gamma interferon, interleukin-6-, and interleukin-8-positive cells were found. For a meaningful interpretation of data these differences have to be kept in mind. Further studies should evaluate the exact specificity of these controls.

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