Background: The variation of immune cell activities over time is an immanent property of the human immune system, as can be measured by the stimulated secretion of cytokines in cell cultures. However, inter-individual variability is considerably higher. Especially the latter is the major reason why it has not been possible to establish international standard values for cytokines as was possible for other parameters, such as leukocyte sub-population numbers. In this trial, a highly standardized whole-blood culture model (TrueCulture®), developed to characterise drug effects on cells of the human immune system in clinical trials, was used to analyse cytokine patterns in the blood samples of 12 healthy subjects over a period of one month.
Methods: After an overnight fast, 12 healthy subjects donated blood three times a week on three consecutive days over a period of 4 weeks. TruCulture® blood collection and whole-blood culture systems were used to measure whole-blood leukocyte stimulation. The levels of IL-2, IL-5, IL-13, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IFNγ, and MCP-1 in the culture supernatants were quantified by sandwich ELISA.
Results: The pattern of cytokine concentrations in the supernatants of the stimulated whole-blood cultures was highly individual, but considerably stable over the whole observation period of 4 weeks.
Conclusions: By using TruCulture® it seems feasible to determine subject-specific cytokine reference patterns, for example under healthy conditions, or before starting an experimental treatment, e.g. during a clinical trial, against which changes in the behaviour of the immune system can be detected more accurately in future.