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J Immunol. 1999 Oct 15;163(8):4360-6.

Monoclonal antibodies that distinguish between two related digitalis glycosides, ouabain and digoxin.

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  • 1Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital, Charlestown, MA 02129, USA.


The exogenous digitalis glycosides, ouabain and digoxin, have been widely used in humans to treat congestive heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. Several reports have also pointed to the existence of endogenous ouabain- and digoxin-like compounds, but their precise roles in mammalian physiology and various disorders of the circulation are not clear. In an attempt to produce specific Abs for the purification and identification of endogenous ouabain-like compounds, somatic cell fusion was used to produce mAbs specific for ouabain. Our attempts to produce ouabain-specific mAbs were unsuccessful when ouabain was coupled to exogenous proteins such as bovine gamma-globulins, BSA, and human serum albumin. However, when ouabain was coupled to an Ab of A/J mice origin and the same strain of mouse was used for immunization with ouabain-Ab conjugate, three Abs (1-10, 5A12, and 7-1) specific for ouabain were obtained. In assays of fluorescence quenching and saturation equilibrium with tritiated ouabain, Ab 1-10 exhibited 200 nM affinity for ouabain. These three mAbs are distinguished from existing Abs to ouabain and digoxin by their specificity for ouabain and lack of cross-reactivity with digoxin. Specificity studies showed that the loss of cross-reactivity was correlated with the presence of a hydroxyl group at either position 12beta (digoxin) or 16beta (gitoxin) of the steroid ring. These Abs can be used to develop assays for detection and characterization of ouabain-like molecules in vivo.

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