Science
Fact-checked

At AllTheScience, we're committed to delivering accurate, trustworthy information. Our expert-authored content is rigorously fact-checked and sourced from credible authorities. Discover how we uphold the highest standards in providing you with reliable knowledge.

Learn more...

What is an Antibody Assay?

An antibody assay is a laboratory test that detects the presence of antibodies in your blood, indicating if your immune system has encountered a specific pathogen. This vital tool helps in diagnosing infections and assessing immune responses. Intrigued by how this could impact your health? Consider the implications of antibody testing on disease prevention and management.
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

An antibody assay is a lab test used to check for presence of antibodies in a sample of blood, urine, tissue, or other material. This test can be used diagnostically to see if a patient has antibodies indicative of exposure to or infection with a given pathogen. It can also be used in biomedical research. A number of companies make antibody assay kits for labs, packaging all the tools for common tests using established methods for convenience. Labs can also use their own protocols and materials if they prefer this or if a commercial kit is not available.

The methodology used for an antibody assay can vary, depending on the technique used. In all cases, the sample is taken and mixed with a material containing an antigen. If the sample contains reactive antibodies, the antigen will bind to them. Another substance bound to the antigen is designed to act as a tag or flag; a common example is a fluorescent tag that will illuminate when the test is viewed under special lighting.

Lab tests can be run on blood and urine samples to check for antibodies.
Lab tests can be run on blood and urine samples to check for antibodies.

People can determine that antibodies are present on the basis of the tags, and they can also collect information about their concentrations. This can be useful when people want to determine how extensive an exposure was or when it occurred. Some examples of reasons people might order an antibody assay include a test to see if a vaccine was effective, looking for antibodies to show that the body reacted, or a test to see if a person is infected with a specific pathogen.

In an antibody assay, the sample is taken and mixed with a material containing an antigen.
In an antibody assay, the sample is taken and mixed with a material containing an antigen.

There are limiting factors on antibody assays. It is not possible to test generically for antibodies; the lab technician must have something to look for in a sample, such as antibodies to the human immunodeficiency virus. It's possible for someone to be infected with something else and have it not show up on the test because the technician didn't test for it. In other cases, reliable tests have not been developed to tag particular antibodies. False negatives and positives are a possibility and additional testing may be recommended to confirm results.

Laboratory staff must take precautions to prevent equipment from becoming contaminated and skewing the results of an antibody assay.
Laboratory staff must take precautions to prevent equipment from becoming contaminated and skewing the results of an antibody assay.

Contamination and failure to follow procedure can also be an issue. If equipment becomes contaminated, results will be skewed. Likewise, if a technician uses the wrong solution for the antibody assay, the thing being tested for will not show up. Careful measures are in place to make sure these tests are standardized and to reduce the risks of technician errors, increasing the accuracy and reliability of antibody assay results.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllTheScience researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...
Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a AllTheScience researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Learn more...

You might also Like

Discuss this Article

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • Lab tests can be run on blood and urine samples to check for antibodies.
      By: angellodeco
      Lab tests can be run on blood and urine samples to check for antibodies.
    • In an antibody assay, the sample is taken and mixed with a material containing an antigen.
      By: Vasiliy Koval
      In an antibody assay, the sample is taken and mixed with a material containing an antigen.
    • Laboratory staff must take precautions to prevent equipment from becoming contaminated and skewing the results of an antibody assay.
      By: science photo
      Laboratory staff must take precautions to prevent equipment from becoming contaminated and skewing the results of an antibody assay.
    • Since antigens react to antibodies, specific antibodies can be used to test for the presence of infectious organisms.
      By: designua
      Since antigens react to antibodies, specific antibodies can be used to test for the presence of infectious organisms.