Direct Competitive Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)
The competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) (cELISA; also called an inhibition ELISA) is designed so that purified antigen competes with antigen in the test sample for binding to an antibody that has been immobilized in microtiter plate wells. The same concept works if the immobilized molecule is antigen and the competing molecules are purified labeled antibody versus antibody in a test sample. Direct cELISAs incorporate labeled antigen or antibody, whereas indirect assay configurations use reporter-labeled secondary antibodies. The cELISA is very useful for determining the concentration of small-molecule antigens in complex sample mixtures. In the direct cELISA, antigen-specific capture antibody is adsorbed onto the microtiter plate before incubation with either known standards or unknown test samples. Enzyme-linked antigen (i.e., labeled antigen) is also added, which can bind to the capture antibody only when the antibody’s binding site is not occupied by either the antigen standard or antigen in the test samples. Unbound labeled and unlabeled antigens are washed away and substrate is added. The amount of antigen in the standard or the test sample determines the amount of reporter-labeled antigen bound to antibody, yielding a signal that is inversely proportional to antigen concentration within the sample. Thus, the higher the antigen concentration in the test sample, the less labeled antigen is bound to the capture antibody, and hence the weaker is the resultant signal.
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