Functional analysis via standardized whole-blood stimulation systems defines the boundaries of a healthy immune response to complex stimuli

Immunity. 2014 Mar 20;40(3):436-50. doi: 10.1016/j.immuni.2014.03.002.


Standardization of immunophenotyping procedures has become a high priority. We have developed a suite of whole-blood, syringe-based assay systems that can be used to reproducibly assess induced innate or adaptive immune responses. By eliminating preanalytical errors associated with immune monitoring, we have defined the protein signatures induced by (1) medically relevant bacteria, fungi, and viruses; (2) agonists specific for defined host sensors; (3) clinically employed cytokines; and (4) activators of T cell immunity. Our results provide an initial assessment of healthy donor reference values for induced cytokines and chemokines and we report the failure to release interleukin-1α as a common immunological phenotype. The observed naturally occurring variation of the immune response may help to explain differential susceptibility to disease or response to therapeutic intervention. The implementation of a general solution for assessment of functional immune responses will help support harmonization of clinical studies and data sharing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / immunology*
  • Antigens / immunology
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Cytokines / metabolism
  • Healthy Volunteers
  • Humans
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood
  • Inflammation Mediators / metabolism
  • Monitoring, Immunologic / methods*
  • Monitoring, Immunologic / standards
  • Reference Values
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Antigens
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators