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Cytokine production in whole blood cell cultures of patients with rheumatoid arthritis
  1. A J G Swaaka,b,
  2. H G van den Brinkb,
  3. L A Aardenb
  1. aDepartment of Rheumatology, Zuider Ziekenhuis, Rotterdam, the Netherlands, bDepartment of Auto Immune Diseases, Central Laboratory Red Cross Bloodtransfusion Service, Amsterdam, the Netherlands
  1. Dr A J G Swaak, Zuiderziekenhuis, Department of Rheumatology, Groene Hilledijk 315, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.


OBJECTIVE The measurement of cytokine production of activated lymphocytes and monocytes in the whole blood cell (WBC) culture system may provide a sensitive tool for evaluating the actual ongoing immune response of patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

METHODS Lipopolysaccharide (LPS) up to 250 pg/ml was used for the stimulation of monocytes for measuring the production of tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα), interleukin 6 (IL6) and IL12, while the anti-CD3 (1 μg/ml) and anti-CD28 (5 μg/ml) combination was used for T cell stimulation with the measuring of IL4 and interferon gamma (INFγ) production. Twenty seven patients with RA and 23 healthy controls were studied.

RESULTS The results showed a decreased IL6 (LPS stimulus 4–6 pg/ml) and IL12 (LPS stimulus 16–62 pg/ml) production in the RA patients. The maximal production of both cytokines was comparable with the normal controls. T cell stimulation showed a significant decreased INFγ production in the RA patients.

CONCLUSIONS These findings obtained in the WBC culture system are highly suggestive for a decreased TH-1 derived cytokine production by a diminished IL12 production in RA patients. Another possibility is that both IL12 and INFγ production in WBCs are inhibited by eventual circulating serum factors.

  • whole blood cell cultures
  • rheumatoid arthritis
  • cytokines

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