Introduction to Antigen and Antibody Assays

Michael J. Day*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article (Academic Journal)peer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Serological tests are used widely in veterinary practice; most often in the diagnosis of infectious disease. Such tests may be used to detect antigen from an infectious agent within a biological sample or to detect the presence of serum antibody specific for the pathogen as evidence of immunological exposure. These tests are all based on the fundamental principles of interaction between antigenic epitopes and antibodies of either the immunoglobulin (Ig) G, IgM, IgA, or IgE classes. The relative concentration of specific antibody within a sample is traditionally determined by calculation of the titer of antibody. With few exceptions, the primary interaction between an antigen and antibody in vitro cannot be visualized and so serological tests generally employ a secondary indicator system based on the use of a polyclonal antiserum or monoclonal antibody. A range of such tests has been developed, but many in veterinary medicine are based on the principle of the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, which is described in detail in this article. The interpretation of serological tests must be made carefully, taking into consideration the sensitivity and specificity of the test and the possible reasons for false-positive and false-negative outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)128-131
Number of pages4
JournalTopics in Companion Animal Medicine
Issue number4
Early online date21 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2015


  • Antibody
  • Antigen
  • Serology


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