Viral immunology

Levels of Circulating Tumor Necrosis Factor-α in Children with Symptomatic Dengue Evaluated by ELISA and Bead-Based Assays.

PMID 27788058


Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α is a key cytokine in the pathogenesis of dengue virus infection, and its accurate detection in several types of human samples is critical. The enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is the gold standard for the detection of TNF-α, but multiplexed bead-based assays such as cytometric bead array (CBA) are now frequently used. Here, using ELISA and two CBAs commercially available, we measured TNF-α concentrations in plasma and serum from children with acute dengue virus infection and healthy controls. To evaluate the detection efficiency and factors affecting it, spiked recovery and immune complex dissociation assays were also performed. The levels of TNF-α evaluated by ELISA in paired serum and plasma samples from children with dengue positively correlated (rho = 0.99, p < 0.0001). Children with dengue had higher levels of plasma TNF-α than those of healthy children (p = 0.004). The ELISA detected TNF-α in a higher number of plasma samples than the CBA (p < 0.0001), and both methods only correlated when TNF-α was evaluated in buffer-based solutions but not in plasma, indicating the presence of a factor interfering with the detection of TNF-α in plasma. The recovery of several types of human recombinant TNF-α was dramatically decreased in plasma but not in tissue culture media (p ≤ 0.01), and this effect was similar in the plasma obtained from the children with dengue or the healthy controls. The dissociation of immune complexes did not improve TNF-α recovery. Dilution of the plasma samples increased the recovery of TNF-α, but at high concentrations of the cytokine. In short, plasma affects the efficiency of TNF-α detection, and this effect should be considered in the measurement of this cytokine.