A simple whole blood collection and culture system for quantifying physiological interactions of the human immune system in the clinic

By: Dr. Manfred Schmolz and Dr. Dominic Eisinger

Accurate measurement of immune activity in relation to therapeutic dosing is an important part of many clinical trials, yet is poorly addressed by traditional techniques. Typical immune activity monitoring is performed using isolated leukocytes or even sorted subpopulation culturing methods followed by an analytical measurement.

These methods require the shipment of intact blood samples to a cell culture lab plus extensive manipulation that leads to alteration of the in vivo physiological environment as well as cell stress and subsequent poor utility and reproducibility.

TruCulture is a simple, reproducible method that eliminates such extensive manipulation and provides ease of use for sample collection and downstream analysis. Every feature of the TruCulture system is designed to give researchers the ability to reproducibly and accurately capture ex vivo immune cell activity to better characterize the efficacy and safety of a new drug, explore disease states, or develop new diagnostic tests.

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White Paper for whole blood collection and culture system using TruCulture

How TruCulture Works

TruCulture tubes are pre-loaded with cell culture media and immune stimulant(s) or drug candidates. Blood is drawn directly into the TruCulture tube and incubated in a dry heat block. Supernatants are collected by simply inserting a valve separator to separate cells from the culture supernatant.

TruCulture Procedure, Collect


Draw 1 mL of blood directly into the TruCulture Tube and break off the plunger.

TruCulture Procedure, MIX

02. MIX

Place tube in 37ºC heat block for up to 48 hours. (typically 24 hours)

TruCulture Procedure, Incubate


Manually insert valve to separate supernatant from the cells.

TruCulture Procedure, separate


Collect supernatant and analyze for secreted proteins.


TruCulture has been utilized as a whole-blood stimulation system by researchers and drug developers in several fields to reliably measure immune response for the following applications.

  • Pharmacodynamics (including dose response)
  • Functional immune cell analysis
  • Disease characterization
  • Patient stratification
  • Genotype – to – Phenotype association studies

PBMCs vs. TruCulture

Traditional pharmacodynamic whole blood experiments are generally short in duration (2-6 hrs) as a consequence of poor culture conditions leading to premature termination of the normal physiological immune response. A longer more robust response usually provides higher sensitivity and greater relevance than short incubation times that may only lead to the release of stored pre-synthesized mediators.

Advantages of TruCulture

  • Integrated closed sterile instant whole blood collection and culture system.
  • Standardized to ensure consistent performance across multiple users and clinical sites.
  • Reliable, easy to use, and reproducible – eliminates the need for cell manipulation.
  • Retains all blood components, granulocytes, platelets, red blood cells, soluble factors and Fc receptor expressing cells.
  • Only inexpensive heat block needed, no lab equipment nor centrifugation steps.
  • Has been successfully deployed in hundreds of clinical drug trials.

Disadvantages of PBMCs

  • Separate blood collection and specialized cell culture procedures.
  • Extensive manipulation, processing, and often freezing/shipping prior to culturing.
  • Requires technical expertise with increased variability across users and clinical sites.
  • Requires CO2 incubator, biosafety cabinet, centrifuge, media, and cell culture plastics.
  • Culture procedures/conditions are difficult to standardize for clinical trial applications.
  • Open, less sterile, artificial system.
  • Poor reproducibility.
PBMC vs TruCulture whole blood collection and stimulation

Learn why TruCulture Whole Blood Culture System is a more relevant model of human leukocyte function than the traditional method of cultured PBMCs.