Solid-phase and bead-based cytokine immunoassay: a comparison

Methods. 2006 Apr;38(4):294-303. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2005.11.008.


Cytokines and chemoattractive cytokines (chemokines) are present in a wide variety of body fluids such as plasma, cerebrospinal fluid, bronchoaveolar fluid, amniotic fluid, synovial fluid, middle ear effusion fluid, and urine. Cytokines can be detected using classical solid-phase sandwich immunoassays such as enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) or with a bead based multiplex immunoassay (MIA). The physical chemical properties of the different body fluids (such as pH and total protein content) differ, which may have an impact on the outcome of the cytokine assay. Both ELISA as well as MIA cytokine detection systems are constructed by sandwiching the protein of interest between a capture and reporter antibody. When the biological sample contains heterophilic antibodies (such as in patients with auto-immune diseases), these non-specific antibodies can cause false positive results. During pathological conditions, cytokines may be found over a wide concentration range; likewise have to cover this dynamic range in a similar fashion. The correct (statistical) analysis of standard curves and (multiplexed) data are critical for proper interpretation. Classical ELISA based cytokine assays are robust, easy to use and very well suited for measurement of single cytokines. Due to an increased interest in the integral approach to understand biological processes (the omics era), multiplex immunoassays for detection of cytokines and the interpretation of these assays are gaining popularity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / chemistry
  • Chemokines / metabolism
  • Cytokines / metabolism*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Immunologic
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Immunoassay / methods*
  • Interleukin-2 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-6 / metabolism
  • Interleukin-8 / metabolism
  • Models, Molecular
  • Protein Array Analysis
  • Proteins / analysis
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Antibodies
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines
  • Interleukin-2
  • Interleukin-6
  • Interleukin-8
  • Proteins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha