Single molecule measurements of tumor necrosis factor α and interleukin-6 in the plasma of patients with Crohn's disease

Linan Song, David W. Hanlon, Lei Chang, Gail K. Provuncher, Cheuk W. Kan, Todd G. Campbell, David R. Fournier, Evan P. Ferrell, Andrew J. Rivnak, Brian A. Pink, Kaitlin A. Minnehan, Purvish P. Patel, David H. Wilson, Mary A. Till, William A. Faubion, David C. Duffy

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


The quantitative measurement of inflammatory cytokines in blood has been limited by insufficient sensitivity of conventional immunoassays. This limitation has prevented the widespread clinical monitoring of cytokine concentrations in chronic inflammatory diseases. We applied a sensitive, single molecule detection technology to measure TNF-α and IL-6 in the plasma of patients with Crohn's disease (CD), before and after treatment with anti-TNF-α therapy. Plasma from 17 patients with CD was collected prior to initiation of anti-TNF-α therapy, and the Crohn's disease activity index (CDAI) was determined for each patient. A sub-set of these patients returned for follow up 12 weeks after treatment started. Plasma from age- and gender-matched controls was also collected. Digital ELISAs were developed for TNF-α and IL-6, and the plasma concentrations of these cytokines were determined using digital ELISA. The limits of detection of the TNF-α and IL-6 digital ELISAs were 0.008. pg/mL and 0.006. pg/mL, respectively. Both cytokines were detected in all samples using digital ELISA and the concentrations of TNF-α and IL-6 in the plasma of patients with CD were (3.6 ± 0.9) pg/mL and (10.9 ± 11.2) pg/mL, respectively. TNF-α levels in patients and healthy controls were not significantly different, but the IL-6 levels in plasma were significantly elevated in patients compared to controls. After therapy, the mean reduction of the concentrations of free TNF-α and IL-6 were 46% and 58%, respectively. Digital ELISA provided the first quantitative measurements of TNF-α and IL-6 concentrations in the plasma of all patients in a population with CD. The changes in cytokine concentrations after therapy-which could be quantified because of the high sensitivity of digital ELISA-could be used for monitoring therapeutic efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)177-186
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Sep 30 2011


  • Crohn's disease
  • Cytokines
  • Digital ELISA
  • IL-6
  • TNF-α

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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