Search for signs of inflammatory disease
ORNL biologist Steve Kennel recently worked on a project to measure levels of a
specific cytokine in samples from mice. The goal was to screen for mice that are likely
to develop inflammatory diseases similar to those in humans, such as arthritis, psoriasis,
and inflammatory bowel disease.
In a study supported by the
Laboratory Directed Research and
Development Program at ORNL,
Kennel collaborated with Greg Hurst,
a mass spectrometry expert in
ORNL's Chemical and Analytical
Sciences Division. They developed a
technique that combines affinity
chromatography with mass
spectrometry to separate three
specific cytokines out of the 100 or
so different cytokines in mouse blood
or fluid extracted from mouse cells.
"I obtained antibodies specific to
different cytokines and attached them
to beads," Kennel says. "These beads
were tossed into a soup of proteins to
fish out specific cytokines for
analysis by matrix-assisted laser desorption ionization mass spectrometry.
"We were able to identify each cytokine. But because we had only small amounts of
blood from a mouse, we were unable to detect unusually high levels of our target
protein-the tumor necrosis factor alpha cytokine. So, we could not be sure these test
mice were showing an inflammation response."