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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Diurnal variations of interleukin-6 plasma levels are confounded by blood drawing procedures.

Recent findings suggest that inflammatory cytokines are involved in sleep regulation. In part, this idea is based on studies showing that systemic levels of interleukin-6 (IL-6) are affected by sleep and sleep deprivation. However, intravenous (IV) catheters used for repetitive blood sampling were reported to increase local IL-6 production, which might confound sleep-dependent or circadian changes in the plasma concentrations of this cytokine. To further examine the effects of blood drawing procedures on IL-6 plasma levels, 12 healthy young male subjects participated in a 24-h cross-over study protocol involving sleep and sleep deprivation. Blood was collected half-hourly through an IV line and one additional sample was taken by a simple needle stick from the contralateral arm in parallel to the last sample from the catheter. Difficulties in blood sampling, the plasma levels of IL-6, cortisol and subjective sleepiness were quantified. In samples from the IV line there was a linear increase in IL-6 levels in both conditions, whereas the amount of IL-6 detected in the needle stick sample at the end did not differ from baseline. IL-6 levels were significantly higher in samples rated as difficult and those difficulties were more frequent during sleep compared to nocturnal wakefulness. IL-6 levels did not correlate to variations in sleepiness or cortisol levels. We conclude that variations in IL-6 plasma levels measured in samples from an IV catheter are caused, at least in part, by changes in local cytokine production rather than by physiological changes in circulating IL-6 levels.[1]


  1. Diurnal variations of interleukin-6 plasma levels are confounded by blood drawing procedures. Haack, M., Kraus, T., Schuld, A., Dalal, M., Koethe, D., Pollmächer, T. Psychoneuroendocrinology (2002) [Pubmed]
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