Sample Aging Profoundly Reduces Monocyte Responses in Human Whole Blood Cultures.

Grievink HW, Moerland M

Human whole blood cultures are widely used for the investigation of physiological pathways and drug effects . Detailed information on the effect of "sample aging" (the time span between blood collection and experimental start) on the experimental outcome is not readily available in the public domain. We studied the effect of sample aging on the ability of immune cells to respond to cell-specific immune triggers (LPS, PMA/ionomycin, and SEB). Sample aging at room temperature profoundly inhibited the LPS-induced monocytic cytokine release in minimally diluted whole blood cultures. The reduction ranged from 20-50% after 30 minutes to 80-100% after 10 hours and differed between cytokines (IL-1, IL-2, IL-6, IFN, and TNF). Sample storage at 4°C or 37°C even worsened this. PMA/ionomycin- and SEB-induced cytokine release, both mainly T-cell-driven, were also reduced by sample aging but to a lesser extent (20-50% after 24 hours). Intracellular cytokine staining revealed that the number of LPS-responding cells was not impacted by sample aging and reduced LPS responsivity could also not be explained by apoptosis or downregulated TLR4 expression. Thus, we speculate that sample aging induces an inhibitory pathway downstream from TLR4 in monocytes. These results underline the importance of quick sample handling when investigating innate immune responses in whole blood, especially for monocyte responses.