A new method to measure air-borne pyrogens based on human whole blood cytokine response

Ilona Kindinger, Mardas Daneshian, Hans Baur, Thomas Gabrio, Andreas Hofmann, Stefan Fennrich, Sonja Von Aulock, Thomas Hartung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Air-borne microorganisms, as well as their fragments and components, are increasingly recognized to be associated with pulmonary diseases, e.g. organic dust toxic syndrome, humidifier lung, building-related illness, "Monday sickness." We have previously described and validated a new method for the detection of pyrogenic (fever-inducing) microbial contaminations in injectable drugs, based on the inflammatory reaction of human blood to pyrogens. We have now adapted this test to evaluate the total inflammatory capacity of air samples. Air was drawn onto PTFE membrane filters, which were incubated with human whole blood from healthy volunteers inside the collection device. Cytokine release was measured by ELISA. The test detects endotoxins and non-endotoxins, such as fungal spores, Gram-positive bacteria and their lipoteichoic acid moiety and pyrogenic dust particles with high sensitivity, thus reflecting the total inflammatory capacity of a sample. When air from different surroundings such as working environments and animal housing was assayed, the method yielded reproducible data which correlated with other parameters of microbial burden tested. We further developed a standard material for quantification and showed that this assay can be performed with cryopreserved as well as fresh blood. The method offers a test to measure the integral inflammatory capacity of air-borne microbial contaminations relevant to humans. It could thus be employed to assess air quality in different living and work environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)143-153
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Immunological Methods
Issue number1-2
StatePublished - Mar 2005
Externally publishedYes


  • Air quality
  • Air-borne pyrogens
  • Pyrogen test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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