New technologies for autoimmune disease monitoring


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Abstract

Purpose of reviewThis article will review new technologies used to characterize the immune phenotype of cells and serum for potential use in studies of autoimmunity.Recent findingsOne area of recent development in studies of immune phenotyping is the contrast between cells of the immune system at rest and following activation. This simply involves comparing these cells at rest and following ligand-induced activation and measuring signaling system activation (phosphoepitope identification) or intracellular cytokine production or activation-induced gene expression. Preliminary data using these techniques have begun to identify signatures of disease (biomarkers) that are only seen when using these activation-induced assays. One of the most exciting new technologies, cytometry by time-of-flight mass spectrometry, couples a flow cytometer to a mass spectrometer, allowing many more parameters to be analyzed per cell, and without spillover between assay reagents, compared to conventional optical flow cytometry (heavy ions, mass, replaces fluorophore readout). Another new technology to analyze soluble proteins, bead-based immunoassays, can simultaneously measure up to 75 soluble analytes in a multiplexed array. Other technologies provide similar innovations in terms of analytical content, throughput, and miniaturization.SummaryWe believe that new cellular genomic and protein-based technologies can provide key insights into autoimmune disease pathogenesis, progression, and therapy, and that these assays need to be applied in a systematic way to samples from patients with autoimmune diseases.

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