Bioassay and other detection methods

Various laborious biological assays can be used to detect IL-la and IL-1(3 activity. These include costimulation of murine thymocyte proliferation with phytohemagglutinin A, IL-2 production by IL-1-dependent T cell lines, stimulation of IL-1-dependent T cell line proliferation, stimulation of fibroblast proliferation, production of collagenase and prostaglandin E2 (PGE2) by synovial cells. The bioassay for IL-lra is based on the inhibition of comito-genic activity of IL-1 in mouse thymocyte proliferation. Although bioassays are actually more sensitive than immunoassays, they are not generally preferred because they are more laborious, less reproducible and respond to other cytokines and therefore lack specificity. Moreover, other naturally occurring substances or inhibitors can interfere with the biological activity of IL-1 in bioassays. ELISA and RIA using monoclonal and polyclonal antibodies specific for each species of IL-1 are most commonly used. These assays have some limitations in that they cannot distinguish functional IL-1 from inactive material and can be affected by interfering molecules, such as soluble IL-1 receptors, which can prevent IL-1 binding to antibodies. Nevertheless, ELISAs are rapid, with sensitivity in the picogram per ml range, and are highly specific, as they can differentiate the three different forms of IL-1, which are often present together in biological fluids.

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