The plasma interleukin-6 response to acute psychosocial stress in humans is detected by a magnetic multiplex assay: comparison to high-sensitivity ELISA
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Circulating concentrations of interleukin (IL)-6, an inflammatory biomarker widely assessed in humans to study the inflammatory response to acute psychological stress, have for decades been quantified using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). However, biobehavioral researchers are increasingly using cytokine multiplex assays instead of ELISA to measure IL-6 and other cytokines. Despite this trend, multiplex assays have not been directly compared to ELISA for their ability to detect subtle stress-induced changes of IL-6. Here, we tested the prediction that a high-sensitivity multiplex assay (human Magnetic Luminex Performance Assay, R&D Systems, Minneapolis, MN) would detect changes in IL-6 as a result of acute stress challenge in a manner comparable to high-sensitivity ELISA. Blood was collected from 12 healthy adults immediately before and then 90 and 210 min after the start of the Trier Social Stress Test (TSST), an acute laboratory psychosocial stress challenge. In addition to quantifying IL-6 concentrations in plasma with both multiplex and ELISA, we also assessed concentrations of tumor necrosis factor-alpha, IL-8, IL-10, IL-5, and IL-2 with multiplex. The multiplex detected IL-6 in all samples. Concentrations strongly correlated with values determined by ELISA across all samples (r = 0.941, p < .001) as well as among samples collected at individual TSST time points. IL-6 responses to the TSST (i.e. area under the curve) captured by multiplex and ELISA were also strongly correlated (rs = 0.937, p < .001). While other cytokines were detected by multiplex, none changed as a result of TSST challenge at time points examined. These results suggest high-sensitivity magnetic multiplex assay is able to detect changes in plasma concentrations of IL-6 as a result of acute stress in humans.