Validation and comparison of two multiplex technologies, Luminex and Mesoscale Discovery, for human cytokine profiling

J Immunol Methods. 2009 Jan 1;340(1):55-64. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2008.10.002. Epub 2008 Nov 5.


Biomarker research has rapidly expanded over recent years aided by the progressive development of research tools, in particular the different multiplex technologies allowing simultaneous measurement of multiple analytes. It is foreseeable that such technology will have an integral role in clinical studies for establishing biomarker profiles of disease status, but validation of the tools is essential to confirm the reliability of their application. More comparable studies between multiplex platforms are required to enable users to determine which of these are best for a particular clinical study, as different platforms will have varying levels of performance for the validation parameters. Comparison of two multiplex platforms, the Luminex and the Mesoscale Discovery, has been performed to determine their performance for the validation parameters of sensitivity, precision and accuracy for the cytokines IL-2, IL-4, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12, IFNgamma and TNFalpha. When measuring high concentrations both platforms show good accuracy (within +/-25% recovery) with all cytokines except IL-12 for the MSD. At low concentrations, +/-25% recovery was seen with all cytokines except IL-2 and IL-8 for the Luminex and IL-2 and IL-12 for the MSD. Although quantitative differences are found, relative differences are comparable, and consequently both platforms have been shown to be suitable for analyzing trends in multiple cytokine profiles, with the Luminex having better precision and the Mesoscale Discovery having greater sensitivity.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Cytokines / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Luminescent Measurements / standards*
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic / standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Cytokines
  • Reagent Kits, Diagnostic