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J Biol Stand. 1987 Apr;15(2):143-57.

Modification of the ELISA for the estimation of tetanus antitoxin in human sera.


The use of indirect ELISA for the quantitation of tetanus toxin neutralizing antibodies in human sera is limited by marked overestimations in low titered sera. The reasons for the discrepancy between the results obtained by ELISA and by in vivo assay and modifications of the ELISA to overcome the problem were investigated. Catching ELISA and indirect ELISA using trays coated with the contaminant proteins in toxoid preparations indicated that antibodies to contaminants were only partly responsible for the discrepancy and the introduction of these modifications did not solve the problem. In ELISA competition experiments with toxin neutralizing monoclonal antibodies, the human immunoglobulins irrelevant in toxin neutralization, but detectable in indirect ELISA, were found to be difficult to inhibit in their binding to the solid antigen phase. These might represent antitoxins bound bivalently to the solid phase but with affinities in monovalent binding insufficient for toxin neutralization or other coupled antibodies due to conformational changes of the antigen. A competition ELISA with toxin in solution was therefore developed to assess selectively the antitoxin capable of binding the antigen in solution and by this approach the in vivo activities of even low titered sera were accurately predicted. This antigen competition ELISA may be easily introduced into routine tetanus serology and the principle may also be of value for the in vitro detection of functional antibodies to other antigens.

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