Long-Term Measurements of Human Inflammatory Cytokines Reveal Complex Baseline Variations between Individuals

The American Journal of Pathology| September 15, 2017

Danlu Wu, Trinh Dinh, Bruce Bausk, David Walt
The American Journal of Pathology
DOI: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2017.08.007


Comprehensive characterization of the healthy human proteome baseline is essential for personalized medicine. Baseline data are necessary to understand the variation between individuals as well as longitudinal variation within individuals. Many important protein biomarkers, such as cytokines, exist at extremely low or undetectable levels in the healthy state. This paper describes results from a 14-week study of healthy human subjects using ultrasensitive single molecule array (Simoa) assays to measure both intra and intersubject variation of 15 cytokines. The results show a wide variation in the ranges of some cytokines between individuals and demonstrate that individual baseline values will be essential for predicting disease presence and progression. While all of the studied cytokines demonstrated high temporal stability (or low intrasubject variation) over the entire study period, there were two distinct groups of cytokines that demonstrated either high (IL-8, IFN-γ, IL-2, IL-6, and IL-1β) or low (IL-15, TNF-α, IL-12 p70, IL-17A, GM-CSF, IL-12 p40, IL-10, IL-7, IL-1α, and IL-5) subject-to-subject variation. This work demonstrates that ultrasensitive assays are essential for characterizing human cytokines in healthy subjects. The results show that some cytokines vary by more than two orders of magnitude between individuals, making it an imperative to obtain individual baseline measurements if they are to play a role in health and disease diagnosis.