By Woei Tan and Ivan Huang
It has been over 60 years since the first cytokine was identified. To date, more than 300 cytokines, chemokines, and growth factors have been studied with many functions involving the immune system (Turner et al. 2014). These cytokines often work in a network that modulates and regulates immune responses. Many of these cytokine molecules have an enigmatic role and in-depth research is essential to better understand the complexity of their association with various pathophysiological processes and the pleiotropic interactions that characterize the cytokine network.
Progress in mining these cytokine markers has shown that in drug discovery and the study of complex diseases, composite profiling of multiple biomarkers provides a more comprehensive understanding of drug effects and signatures in disease progression (Etzioni et al. 2003, Hsu et al. 2014, Williams 2009). The availability of commercial multiplex cytokine assays has greatly simplified this effort and enables end users to interrogate an entire network of cytokines in a single sample.