Cytokine profile testing is the method that is used to test for inflammatory markers in the human body. Cytokines are proteins that are secreted by cells of body when they are in distress, due to attack or damage. These cytokines are actually signals that call upon white blood cells and lymphocytes to come to the rescue and start the repair process. These cytokines are also quite useful in other functions like selective signaling that tells the immune system what the exact nature of repair or distress the body is under. The main types of cytokines are interleukins, interferon, and tumor necrotizing factor alpha. Cytokines are a major subject of study in understanding autoimmune disease because of the odd nature of the disease. The objective is to find the exact markers that the cells of an area secrete to literally cause their own death.
A cytokine profile test is used to screen the blood for cytokines. These are substances that alert the immune system to an infection or cellular damage and thereby call upon the white blood cells and lymphocytes to move in for attack or repair. It is also a tool used in instances of cytokine release gone wrong, called cytokine storms. Because cytokine releases call upon immune system cells, these white blood cells and lymphocytes further release cytokines. Normally, this release is held in balance but in some diseases, this can be uncontrolled. Even some classes of drugs can induce a cytokine storm. A cytokine storm will result in extreme tissue damage.
Cytokines are released into the blood and therefore, the test simply requires a sample of blood. After that, the assay will then check for the presence of the cytokine types.
There is no special preparation that needs to be done for this and apart from the standard precautions of clotting and the use of blood thinners nothing else needs to be done. It might be a good idea to also let your doctor know if you are on corticosteroids as these are drugs that stop the immune system from responding to a call for help. The act of cytokine release in allergic and autoimmune disease is the subject of much study. The reason why corticosteroids work is because the cytokine call from these cells is not responded to by the cells of the immune system at all.