Rheumatoid factor and its interference with cytokine measurements: problems and solutions

Arthritis. 2011:2011:741071. doi: 10.1155/2011/741071. Epub 2011 Jun 22.


Use of cytokines as biomarkers for disease is getting more widespread. Cytokines are conveniently determined by immunoassay, but interference from present antibodies is known to cause problems. In rheumatoid arthritis (RA), interference of rheumatoid factor (RF) may be problematic. RF covers a group of autoantibodies from immunoglobulin subclasses and is present in 65-80% of RA patients. Partly removal of RF is possible by precipitation. This study aims at determining the effects of presence of RF in blood and synovial fluid on cytokine measurements in samples from RA patients and finding possible solutions for recognized problems. IL-1β, IL-4, IL-6, and IL-8 were determined with multiplex immunoassays (MIA) in samples from RA patients prior to and after polyethylene glycol (PEG 6000) precipitation. Presence of RF does interfere with MIA. PEG 6000 precipitation abolishes this RF interference. We recommend PEG precipitation for all immunoassay measurements of plasma samples from RA patients.