Comparison of Ophthalmic Sponges for Measurements of Immune Markers from Cervical Secretions

Philip E. Castle, Ana Cecilia Rodriguez, Frederick P. Bowman, Rolando Herrero, Mark Schiffman, M. Concepcion Bratti, Lidia Ana Morera, Danny Schust, Peggy Crowley-Nowick, Allan Hildesheim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Measurements of cervical immunity are important for evaluating immune responses to infections of the cervix and to vaccines for preventing those infections. Three ophthalmic sponges, Weck-Cel, Ultracell, and Merocel, were loaded in vitro with interleukin-1β (IL-1β), IL-2, IL-4, IL-5, IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-12, IL-15, IL-18, gamma interferon (IFN-γ), granulocyte-macrophage colony-stimulating factor (GM-CSF), immunoglobulin A (IgA), or IgG, and sponges were extracted and evaluated for total recovery by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). There was excellent (>75%) recovery for all immune markers from all three devices except for IL-6, which was poorly recovered (<60%) for all sponge types, IFN-γ, which was poorly recovered from both Weck-Cel and Ultracell sponges but was completely recovered from Merocel sponges, and IL-4, which was poorly recovered from Weck-Cel sponges but was completely recovered from Ultracell or Merocel sponges. We then compared the absolute recovery of selected markers (IL-10, IL-12, IgG, and IgA) from cervical secretion specimens collected from women using each type of sponge. There were no significant differences in the recoveries of IL-10, IL-12, and IgG from cervical specimens collected by any type of ophthalmic sponge, but there was reduced IgA recovery from Merocel sponges. However, the variability in these measurements attributable to sponge types (1 to 3%) was much less than was attributable to individuals (45 to 72%), suggesting that differences in sponge type contribute only in a minor way to these measurements. We infer from our data that the three collection devices are adequate for the measurements of IL-1β, IL-2, IL-5, IL-12, IL-15, IL-18, and IgG. Merocel may be a better ophthalmic sponge for the collection of cervical secretions and measurements of IL-4, IL-8, IL-10, GM-CSF, and IFN-γ, but our data from clinical specimens, not in vitro-loaded sponges, suggested the possibility of reduced recovery of IgA. These findings require confirmation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)399-405
Number of pages7
JournalClinical and Diagnostic Laboratory Immunology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Microbiology (medical)


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