The importance of cytokines in the pathogenesis of inflammatory diseases is highlighted by the success of therapeutic approaches directed against cytokines and cytokine receptors. Cytokines are characterized by their redundancy and pleyotropy: multiple cytokines can target the same receptor, while on the other hand a single cytokine can have multiple, even contradictory immunological effects. Linking a cytokine/protein biomarker signature with clinical outcome may help to identify and classify patient cohorts. Thus “intelligent” cytokine signatures can be used as biomarkers in human inflammatory diseases. There are however various risks associated with this approach; often it is impossible to obtain material from the site of inflammation and there are various often not well-known technical aspects crucial to obtain reliable and usable results. Although standardization has been prominent in day to day clinical practice, standardization of sample collection and laboratory assessments remains suboptimal. Inconsistency in sample collection can affect the results of biological assays and thus several characteristics require thorough evaluation and standardization. This standardization is not limited to assay validity and reproducibility but also pre-analytical treatment and appropriate specimen types.
Disclosure of Interest None declared