Interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-1 receptor antagonist, and TNFα production in whole blood

J. L. Nerad, J. K. Griffiths, J. W.M. Van Der Meer, S. Endres, D. D. Poutsiaka, G. T. Keusch, M. Bennish, M. A. Salam, C. A. Dinarello, J. G. Cannon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

89 Scopus citations


The ability of an individual to mount defense responses to infection depend in part on the capacity to produce cytokines such as interleukin 1 (IL-1) and tumor necrosis factor (TNF). The specialized equipment, labor intensity, and sterile practice required for the standard in vitro evaluation of cytokine production can make such evaluation impractical in some clinical situations. We report a method for stimulating whole blood to produce cytokines that can be implemented in laboratories without tissue culture facilities and requires minimal sample preparation. IL-1β and TNFα production in whole blood samples was stimulated with endotoxin and/or phytohemagglutinin in standard EDTA-containing vacuum collection tubes. After incubation, plasma was removed and frozen for later assay. Comparison of this whole blood method with isolated ononuclear cell cultures indicated a significant correlation for IL-1β production (r = 0.746, P = 0.005). This technique also produced the newly described cytokine, IL-1 receptor antagonist. We conclude that the whole blood method is an acceptable alternative to isolated cell culture methods for measuring IL-1β in situations that preclude the standard in vitro approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)687-692
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Leukocyte Biology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1992


  • cytokine
  • interleukin-1
  • interleukin-1 receptor agonist
  • tumor necrosis factor
  • whole blood assay

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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