Lymphocyte Proliferation Assay


Many complex natural products contain immune modulating compounds that may rapidly alter immune cell function, migration, and activation status. It is often desirable to verify that a potent immunomodulatory product or compound does not, by itself, induce cell division (proliferation). If a product is capable of inducing cell proliferation directly, it can raise safety concerns.  Thus, the basic assay doubles as a safety evaluation as well.

Testing Natural Products and Lymphocyte Proliferation

Studying the immune response may require an immune challenge, whether in a clinical immune study or in lab tests.

To examine immune modulation by natural products ideally a panel of tests is applied, where each test asks specific questions.

When studying the immune response to an immune challenge in the laboratory, we add a mitogen to trigger a complex set of cellular cross-talk, activation, and cell proliferation.  The mitogen Pokeweed Mitogen (PWM) serves as one model for this type of challenge, as it requires communication between monocytes/macrophages, T and B lymphocytes to engage in a robust response.

The cell cultures are treated with serial doses of natural product before adding PWM to initiate the immune reaction.  If the natural product triggers cellular re-programming and activation events, the cells may respond differently to the PWM challenge.

This test is ideally combined with cytokine testing of the culture medium as well.

Further analysis can also include evaluation of cytokine production, as well as phenotypic analysis of expression of specific T and B lymphocyte activation markers.