Proficiency tests to evaluate the impact on assay outcomes of harmonized influenza-specific Intracellular Cytokine Staining (ICS) and IFN-ɣ Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSpot (ELISpot) protocols.
Waerlop G., Leroux-Roels G., Pagnon A., Begue S., Salaun B., Janssens M., Medaglini D., Pettini E., Montomoli E., Gianchecchi E., Lambe T., Godfrey L., Bull M., Bellamy D., Amdam H., Bredholt G., Cox RJ., Clement F.
The magnitude and quality of cell-mediated immune responses elicited by natural infection or vaccination are commonly measured by Interferon-ɣ (IFN-ɣ) Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSpot (ELISpot) and Intracellular Cytokine Staining (ICS). To date, laboratories apply a variety of in-house procedures which leads to diverging results, complicates interlaboratory comparisons and hampers vaccine evaluations. During the FLUCOP project, efforts have been made to develop harmonized Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for influenza-specific IFN-ɣ ELISpot and ICS assays. Exploratory pilot studies provided information about the interlaboratory variation before harmonization efforts were initiated. Here we report the results of two proficiency tests organized to evaluate the impact of the harmonization effort on assay results and the performance of participating FLUCOP partners. The introduction of the IFN-ɣ ELISpot SOP reduced variation of both background and stimulated responses. Post-harmonization background responses were all lower than an arbitrary threshold of 50 SFU/million cells. When stimulated with A/California and B/Phuket, a statistically significant reduction in variation (p