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A large structure labeled antigen has different shaped pieces on it labeled epitopes. Each epitope is bound to an antibody that mas a matching pocket to fit the epitope’s shape.
An antibody binds to a specific region on an antigen called an epitope. A single antigen can have multiple epitopes for different, specific antibodies.
  • What property makes antibodies useful for research and clinical diagnosis?
  • What is cross-reactivity and why does it occur?

Producing polyclonal antibodies

Antibodies used for research and diagnostic purposes are often obtained by injecting a lab animal such as a rabbit or a goat with a specific antigen . Within a few weeks, the animal’s immune system will produce high levels of antibodies specific for the antigen. These antibodies can be harvested in an antiserum , which is whole serum collected from an animal following exposure to an antigen. Because most antigens are complex structures with multiple epitopes, they result in the production of multiple antibodies in the lab animal. This so-called polyclonal antibody response is also typical of the response to infection by the human immune system. Antiserum drawn from an animal will thus contain antibodies from multiple clones of B cells, with each B cell responding to a specific epitope on the antigen ( [link] ).

Lab animals are usually injected at least twice with antigen when being used to produce antiserum. The second injection will activate memory cells that make class IgG antibodies against the antigen. The memory cells also undergo affinity maturation , resulting in a pool of antibodies with higher average affinity. Affinity maturation occurs because of mutations in the immunoglobulin gene variable regions, resulting in B cells with slightly altered antigen-binding sites. On re-exposure to the antigen, those B cells capable of producing antibody with higher affinity antigen-binding sites will be stimulated to proliferate and produce more antibody than their lower-affinity peers. An adjuvant , which is a chemical that provokes a generalized activation of the immune system that stimulates greater antibody production, is often mixed with the antigen prior to injection.

Antiserum obtained from animals will not only contain antibodies against the antigen artificially introduced in the laboratory, but it will also contain antibodies to any other antigens to which the animal has been exposed during its lifetime. For this reason, antisera must first be “purified” to remove other antibodies before using the antibodies for research or diagnostic assays.

Diagram showing production of polyclonal antibodies. Antigen is injected into an animal (such as a rabbit). Antigen activates B cells. This produces clones of the B cells, and clones of the plasma cells. Polyclonal antibodies from different B cells are produced in response to different epitopes on the antigen. Serum obtained from animal contains polyclonal antibodies.
This diagram illustrates the process for harvesting polyclonal antibodies produced in response to an antigen.

Clinical uses of polyclonal antisera

Polyclonal antisera are used in many clinical tests that are designed to determine whether a patient is producing antibodies in response to a particular pathogen. While these tests are certainly powerful diagnostic tools, they have their limitations, because they are an indirect means of determining whether a particular pathogen is present. Tests based on a polyclonal response can sometimes lead to a false-positive result—in other words, a test that confirms the presence of an antigen that is, in fact, not present. Antibody-based tests can also result in a false-negative result, which occurs when the test fails to detect an antibody that is, in fact, present.

Questions & Answers

Hi, I'm new here. I'm Bello Abdul Hakeem from Nigeria.
BELLO Reply
welcome on board
Kamaluddeen
Thanks brother I'm an undergraduate. I hope to study for MBBS.
BELLO
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Linda
what is limitation of plate
Linda
limitation of plate load test . there are some that should be considered while performing load test which are given below, this test is usually performed on relatively similar plate ,usually 1 or 2 square foot area the reason is that the plate of greater are the economically not feasible
yemi
Mechanism of bacterial pathogenicity
rashida Reply
Toxicity
Ibrahim
write a short note on Algea
najaatu Reply
green minutes plants organisms that are produced in turf.
Prince
Algae is a kind of a photosynthetic organism, which is usually grown in the moist areas. These are usually the simple plants that grow near to the water bodies. It contains a kind of chlorophyll pigments that act as a primary coloring agent.
Avi
they are eukaryotic and most lived in fresh water. they are photosynthetic that's, they contain chlorophyll and store starch in discrete chloroplast.
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just Reply
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Rose
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saurabh Reply
define metabolism of carbohydrates with example
Thavasi Reply
what is sterilization a
Sani
the process of keep equipment free from bacteria
shar
is it only bacteria?
Lois
no undesirable fungi and contamination also.
Khushbu
what is streak plate method
Offikwu
what is the biofilm
Dimingu
metabolism is the sum of all the biochemical reaction required for energy generation and use of that energy to synthesize cell materials from small molecules in environment.
Alex
boclenia
Pooja
what are granulocytes
Shawnitta Reply
e.coli
Sukhdeep
granulocytes are type of WBCs which contains granules in the cytoplasm
Owili
suitable example for prokaryotes
Suvetha Reply
one of the possible early sources of energy was
Suvetha
uv radiation and lighting
Anisha
e coli is the example of prokaryotes
Sukhdeep
archaea too
Noel
which is the specific virus causing typhoid
Jeremiah Reply
it's caused by a virulent bacteria called Salmonella Typhi
Sarah
write the life cycle of HIV
Firomsa Reply
describe the internal and external structure of prokaryotic cell in terms of there appearance and functions
Lenia Reply
compare and contrast similar structures found in prokaryotic and eukaryotic cells
Lenia
control of microorganisms
ISTEFAZUL Reply
what is sterilization
Sani
how can a doctor treat a person affected by endospore forming bacteria in his/her wound?
Mambo Reply
define disinfectant
Sani
the process of killing
shar
the process of killing microorganisms
shar
a 28 years old woman come to your clinic with complain of fever painful genital blisters which express clear fluid when ruptured burning sensation around the bristers what is the diagnosis?
Ramadhani Reply
genital herpes caused by a virus called herpe simplex virus
Doris

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Source:  OpenStax, Microbiology. OpenStax CNX. Nov 01, 2016 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col12087/1.4
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