Publications & Posters

Cross-platform Comparison of Highly Sensitive Immunoassay Technologies for Cytokine Markers: Platform Performance in Post-traumatic Stress Disorder and Parkinson’s Disease


Lasseter HC, Provost AC, Chaby LE, Daskalakis NP, Haas M and Jeromin A

Cytokine: X. 2020:100027



There is mounting evidence of systemic inflammation in post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD), yet inconsistency and a lack of replicability in findings of putative biological markers have delayed progress in this space. Variability in performance between platforms may contribute to the lack of consensus in the biomarker literature, as has been seen for a number of psychiatric disorders, including PTSD. Thus, there is a need for high-performance, scalable, and validated platforms for the discovery and development of biomarkers of inflammation for use in drug development and as clinical diagnostics. To identify the best platform for use in future biomarker discovery efforts, we conducted a comprehensive cross-platform and cross-assay evaluation across five leading platform technologies. This initial assessment focused on four cytokines that have been implicated PTSD – interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α, and interferon (IFN)-γ. To assess platform performance and understand likely measurements in individuals with brain disorders, serum and plasma samples were obtained from individuals with PTSD (n=13) or Parkinson’s Disease (PD, n=14) as well as healthy controls (n=5). We compared platform performance across a number of common analytic parameters, including assay precision, sensitivity, frequency of endogenous analyte detection, correlation between platforms, and parallelism in measurement of cytokines using a serial dilution series. The single molecule array (Simoa™) ultra-sensitive platform (Quanterix), MESO V-Plex (Mesoscale Discovery), and Luminex xMAP® (Myriad) were conducted by their respective vendors, while Luminex® and Quantikine® high-sensitivity ELISA assays were evaluated by R&D System’s Biomarker Testing Services. The assay with the highest sensitivity in detecting endogenous analytes across all analytes and clinical populations (i.e. the highest frequency of endogenous analytes detection (FEAD)), was the Simoa™ platform. In contrast, more variable performance was observed for MESO V-plex, R&D Luminex® and Quantikine®, while Myriad’s Luminex xMAP® exhibited low FEAD across all analytes and samples. Simoa™ also demonstrated high precision in detecting endogenous cytokines, as reflected in <20 percent coefficient of variance (%CV) across replicate runs for samples from the healthy controls, PTSD patients, and PD patients. In contrast, MESO V-Plex, R&D Luminex® and Quantikine® had variable performance in terms of precision across cytokines. Note that Myriad Luminex xMAP® could not be included in precision estimates because the vendor did not run samples in duplicate. For cross-platform performance comparisons, the highest cross-platform correlations were observed for IL-6 such that all platforms – except for Myriad’s Luminex xMAP® – had strong correlations with one another in measurements of IL-6 (r range = 0.59 – 0.86). For the other cytokines, there was low to no correlation across platforms, such that reported measurements of IL-1β, TNF-α, and IFN-γ varied across assays. Taken together, these findings provide novel evidence that the choice of immunoassay could greatly impact reported cytokine findings. The current study provides crucial information on the variability in performance between platforms and across immunoassays that may help inform the selection of assay in future research studies. Further, the results emphasize the need for performing comparative evaluations of immunoassays as new technologies emerge over time, particularly given the lack of reference standards for the quantitative assessments of cytokines.