How Minimally Invasive is Microdialysis Sampling? A Cautionary Note for Cytokine Collection in Human Skin and other Clinical Studies

by Stenken, Julie A.; Church, Martin K.; Gill, Carolyn A.; Clough, Geraldine F.

It is common to refer to microdialysis as a minimally invasive procedure, likening it to insertion of an artificial capillary. While a comparison of this type allows the process to be easily visualized by those outside the field, it tends to provide a false impression of the localized perturbation of the tissue space that is caused by catheter insertion. With the increased acceptance of microdialysis sampling as a viable in vivo sampling method, many researchers have begun to use the technique to explore inflammatory and immune-mediated diseases in the skin and other organs. Unfortunately, many of the molecules of interest, particularly chemokines and cytokines, are known to be generated during the inflammatory response to wounding and the subsequent cellular events leading to wound repair. With more than 11,000 reports citing the use of microdialysis sampling, only a few researchers have sought to assess the tissue damage that is incurred by probe insertion. For this reason, caution is warranted when collecting these molecules and inferring a role for them in clinical disease states. This commentary seeks to remind the research community of the confounding effects that signaling molecules related to the wounding response will have on clinical studies. Proper controls must be incorporated into all studies in order to assess whether or not particular molecules are truly related to the disease state under investigation or have been generated as part of the tissue response to the wound incurred by microdialysis catheter implantation.

AAPS Journal
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