The challenge of measuring IL-33 in serum using commercial ELISA: lessons from asthma

Ketelaar, M.E., Nawijn, Martijn C., Shaw, Dominick E., Koppelman, Gerard H. and Sayers, Ian (2016) The challenge of measuring IL-33 in serum using commercial ELISA: lessons from asthma. Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 46 (6). pp. 884-887. ISSN 1365-2222

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Interleukin-33 (IL-33) has been subject of extensive study in the context of inflammatory disorders, particularly in asthma. Many human biological samples, including serum, have been used to determine the protein levels of IL-33, aiming to investigate its involvement in asthma. Reliable methods are required to study the association of IL-33 with disease, especially considering the complex nature of serum samples.


We evaluated four IL-33 ELISA kits, aiming to determine a robust and reproducible approach to quantifying IL-33 in human serum from asthma patients.


IL-33 levels were investigated in serum of well-defined asthma patients by the Quantikine, DuoSet (both R&D systems), ADI-900-201 (Enzo Life Sciences), and SKR038 (GenWay Biotech Inc San Diego USA) immunoassays, as well as spiking experiments were performed using recombinant IL-33 and its soluble receptor IL-1RL1-a.


We show that 1) IL-33 is difficult to detect by ELISA in human serum, due to lack of sensitivity and specificity of currently available assays; 2) human serum interferes with IL-33 quantification, in part through IL-1RL1-a; and 3) using non-serum certified kits may lead to spurious findings.

Conclusion and Clinical Relevance

If IL-33 is to be studied in the serum of asthma patients and other diseases, a more sensitive and specific assay method is required, which will be vital for further understanding and targeting of the IL-33/IL-1RL1 axis in human disease.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: M. E. Ketelaar, M. C. Nawijn, D. E. Shaw, G. H. Koppelman, I. Sayers, Clinical & Experimental Allergy, 2016 (46) 884–887 which has been published in final form at This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Self-Archiving.
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Medicine > Division of Respiratory Medicine
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Depositing User: Eprints, Support
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2017 08:11
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 17:50

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