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Cytokines mediate multiple positive and negative feedback loops and play essential roles in innate immunity, cancer, apoptosis, angiogenesis, cell growth and differentiation. To help understand this complex network of interactions, researchers use cytokine arrays to measure many cytokines at the same time. Using cytokine arrays to compare normal and disease states helps to decipher disease mechanisms and identify potential biomarkers. Cytokine arrays give researchers a full picture of the cytokine network, rather than selecting a limited set of single analyte assays (e.g., ELISA), based on cost, time or sample constraints.
Learn how you can apply cytokine arrays to your research and see how researchers have successfully used our cytokine arrays in different ways to measure the levels of many cytokines and identify critical changes.
Get the full picture of the cytokine network in cell culture studies
Cytokine arrays are often used for cytokine profiling with in vitro disease models. Yao et al. (2015), carried out a study to better understand the recovery mechanisms of damaged myocardium following acute myocardial infarction. They used laser capture micro-dissection techniques to examine cytokine mRNA levels in cells adjacent to transplanted murine mesenchymal stem cells (MSC), in simulated myocardial infarction tissue.
In vivo findings were corroborated using a cytokine array that compared cytokine secretions from MSCs under hypoxic and normoxic states. Researchers found increased levels of several cytokines (VEGF, FGF2, TNF alpha, TGF alpha and EGF) in hypoxic conditions, as shown below in Figure 1.
Figure 1: Elevated levels of cytokines detected in hypoxic conditions. (A) Cytokine array scan show changes in cytokine level expression between normal and hypoxic conditions using ab133997. (B) Membrane array plan schematic and (C) relative protein levels detected with the cytokine array. Yao et al., 2015. Click on image to enlarge.
Li et al. (2013) used a cytokine array (ab133997) to analyze critical cytokines involved in the tumor microenvironment. They co-cultivated human breast cancer cells with and without adipocytes to examine cell-to-cell communication. By simultaneously screening 42 cytokines, the researchers identified 6 pro-inflammatory cytokines that were abundantly expressed in the tumor matrix (GRO-α, ENA-78, IL-6, GRO, MCP1 and IL-8). By measuring a large set of cytokines with an array, the researchers were able to identify the key cytokines that could contribute to changes in tumor cell migration.
Analyze patient samples to improve understanding of disease
Cytokine arrays are also used to study patient samples in in vivo studies. Khalfaoui et al. (2016) used a cytokine array (ab133998) to analyze 32 patient samples to study the relationship between human bocavirus (HBoV) infection and lung fibrosis. They analyzed bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) fluid from patients infected with HBoV.
Nineteen of the eighty cytokines measured with the cytokine array were upregulated in HBoV-positive BAL fluid (shown in Figure 2). Each of the upregulated cytokines has been implicated in fibrogenesis, thus giving Khalfaoui et al. the evidence to strengthen their hypothesis that infection with HBoV might be a trigger for the development of lung fibrosis. The cytokine array eliminated the need to restrict analysis to a small number of cytokines, where key cytokines of interest could have been missed, or patient sample exhausted.
Figure 2: Nineteen cytokines were upregulated in HBoV patients (blue) versus controls (grey) using cytokine array ab133998. Results were normalized after quantification of the semi-quantitative arrays by densitometry. Khalfaoui et al., 2016. Click on image to enlarge.
Researchers can use cytokine arrays to simultaneously screen for a wide range of cytokines to get a full picture of the cytokine network. By identifying the cytokines that really matter early on in a study, other research can be planned to support those findings, maximizing time and resources for more in depth analysis.