In vitro testing for anti-inflammatory properties of compounds employing peripheral blood mononuclear cells freshly isolated from healthy donors

Inflamm Res. 2011 Feb;60(2):127-35. doi: 10.1007/s00011-010-0244-y. Epub 2010 Aug 26.


Introduction: Inflammation is crucially involved in a variety of diseases like autoimmune syndromes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative disorders, cancer, sepsis and allograft rejection.

Methods: Freshly isolated human peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) are used as a screening assay for anti-inflammatory properties of compounds. Determinations of neopterin production by ELISA and of tryptophan degradation by HPLC are used as read-outs. Results are compared with further markers of immune response and oxidative stress.

Results: Phytohaemagglutinin induced significant tryptophan degradation and neopterin formation in PBMC, which correlated with IFN-γ, TNF-α, soluble cytokine receptors and isoprostane-8. Addition of vitamin C and E suppressed the responses dose-dependently.

Discussion: The determination of tryptophan degradation and neopterin production in PBMC reflects various pro- and anti-inflammatory cascades that are of relevance also in patients. It constitutes a robust and reliable approach to screen anti-inflammatory or immunosuppressive drugs and may improve throughput, speed and cost-effectiveness in drug discovery.

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / pharmacology*
  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / drug therapy
  • Inflammation / immunology*
  • Interferon-gamma / metabolism
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit / metabolism
  • Isoprostanes / metabolism
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / drug effects*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / immunology
  • Mitogens / pharmacology
  • Neopterin / metabolism
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type II / metabolism
  • Tryptophan / metabolism
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism


  • Anti-Inflammatory Agents
  • Interleukin-2 Receptor alpha Subunit
  • Isoprostanes
  • Mitogens
  • Receptors, Tumor Necrosis Factor, Type II
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Neopterin
  • Interferon-gamma
  • Tryptophan