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The Ultimate Guide To Using Elisa Kits For Cytokine Detection

Jan 17th 2024

The Ultimate Guide To Using Elisa Kits For Cytokine Detection

In modern biotechnology, the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is widely used when determining the existence and quantity of an antigen, antibody, peptide, protein, hormone, or other biomolecule in a biological sample. It can identify even minimal antigen concentrations because of its high sensitivity.

The sensitivity of ELISA is ascribed to its capacity to identify the interactions among a solitary antigen-antibody complex.

Elisa kits are critical in the constantly changing medical research and diagnosis field. Due to their exceptional accuracy and adaptability, these kits are essential for solving medical riddles and investigating novel treatments. Their use has expanded to include various fields, from infectious illnesses to cancer biomarker identification, as scientific curiosity and technology progress. They break through fresh ground daily, helping improve patient care and revolutionary medical advancements.

Understanding ELISA

ELISA techniqueincludes a variety of immunoassays with few differences in their procedures

Source: Unsplash

The phrase "enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay," or "ELISA" for short, was first used in 1971 to refer to an enzyme-based immunoassay technique useful in measuring antigen concentrations. Enzyme-linked immunosorbent Assay (ELISA) kits are utilized in research to detect and quantifyparticular protein sequences and other targets inside a sample. Using the correct ELISA kits provides precise, quantifiable data that confirms and supports your study. You must select the appropriate kit type (direct, indirect, sandwich, or competitive ELISA) for your project. A high-quality kit should tolerate some technique variation and be thoughtfully designed to help you get the best results.

Applications Of ELISA Kits For Cytokine Detection

The ELISA technique includes a variety of immunoassays with few differences in their procedures. Several parameters, such as the antigen being detected, the monoclonal antibody available for a specific antigen, and the necessary test sensitivity, determine which version of ELISA to employ. Sandwich and indirect ELISA are the two most commonly used in cytokine detection.

1. Sandwich ELISA

Cytokine sandwich ELISAs are sensitive enzyme immunoassays that can preciselyidentify and measure the amount of soluble chemokine and cytokine proteins. Highly pure anti-cytokine antibodies (capture antibodies) are used in the basic cytokine sandwich ELISA method. These antibodies are noncovalently adsorbed onto plastic microwell plates. The immobilized antibodies work to selectively bind soluble cytokine proteins found in the samples that were added to the plate after platewashings.

Following the removal of unbound material, biotin-conjugated anti-cytokine antibodies (detection antibodies) are used to identify the cytokine proteins that have been collected. An enzyme-labeled avidin or streptavidin step comes after them.

An ELISA reader may be used to simply quantify the amount of colored product created by the bound, enzyme-linked detection reagents at an acceptable optical density (OD) spectrophotometrically after the addition of a chromogenic substrate. Data storage and reanalysis become easier when the plate reader is linked to a computer.

The ELISA sandwich method is the preferred option for high accuracy in measuring analytes. This format can reveal the specificity and sensitivity of analytes, starting with a capture antibody that immobilizes the analyte. When adding a detection antibody with an enzyme label, the sandwich is assembled like building blocks. It completes the complex sandwich structure by identifying an additional epitope on the analyte.

2. Indirect ELISA

An indirect ELISA is one in which a secondary conjugated antibody identifies the primary antigen-specific antibody. Antibody sequencing coordinates sensitivity and signal amplification in Indirect Elisa. Two antibodies work together in this configuration to defeat the analyte. With high specificity, the primary antibody seeks for the analyte and forms an irreversible association.

The secondary antibody then uses an enzyme label to identify and attach itself to the original antibody. Collaboratively, the two antibodies enhance the signal and lead to increased sensitivity, highlighting even the most minuscule amounts of analyte.

Sensitivity is high with indirect ELISA ( when used in cytokine detection. This is mainly because the primary antibody can attach to many secondary antibodies conjugated with enzymes. Additionally, one enzyme-conjugated secondary antibody mayidentify various primary antibodies. This provides the user with the option to employ the same enzyme-conjugated secondary antibody in several ELISA as needed (independent of the antigen being detected)

Selecting The Suitable ELISA Kit

Every ELISA kit is designed to detect distinct targets and has unique capabilities

Source: Unsplash

Taking into account the following will help your ELISA kits work at their peak:

1. Specificity Of Antibodies

The selection of an antibody for an ELISA test is contingent upon the specificity and affinity criteria. By definition, monoclonal antibodies bind more precisely, reducing background signal. Polyclonals and monoclonals can be employed together or separately. Although polyclonals will produce a higher signal, non-specific binding will also be more prevalent. You will also need extensive testing each time since polyclonals will exhibit more batch-to-batch variance.

The term "matched pairs" describes a mixture of monoclonal, polyclonal, or both antibodies you use to detect a single antigen in an experiment. These antibodies should have been shown to function well by binding to several epitopes and working as an effective "capture" and "detection" pair.

2. Sensitivity And Detection Range

Every ELISA kit is designed to detect distinct targets and has unique capabilities; they are not universally applicable. Knowing your ELISA kit's sensitivity and specificity, together with the precise augmentation of each step, will provide an accurate and dependable standard curve that shows the measurement of your target.

Reagents and ELISA buffers tailored to each target will be included in each package. Ensure you understand each set of parameters, such as the type of antibody, incubation durations, temperatures, and reporting system, at the beginning of your tests. It will save you a great deal of time and annoyance if you are familiar with this beforehand.

3. Sample Compatibility

Know if a particular ELISA kit is compatible (or incompatible) with the makeup of your sample (matrix). The performance of the kits is often assessed using various matrices, and the results are frequently presented in the instruction manual and other supporting materials. Ensure you know how thoroughly the ELISA kit has been described in the matrix on the samples (urine, tissue culture, plasma, serum, etc.). While it doesn't necessarily imply a kit won't function, it will help know whether you'll need more validation assays to determine how well it performs in your interest matrix.

4. Validation And Quality Control

Perform a few tests using control samples at various dilutions to generate standard curves and make the most out of your kit. Save your best samples for when you know the appropriate dilutions to employ. You may arrange your plate most effectively after you know the samples and dilutions to utilize. Ensure you use all wells, adhering to the kit's instructions. If an extra detection reagent is required based on the information given, add it.

Experimental Protocol

Aim for accuracy and repeatability When producing valuable and meaningful data. Keep the ELISA protocol entirely in mind at all times to ensure consistency, peak performance, and precise outcomes. Here are the experimental protocols to consider:

  • Give the kit reagents approximately 30 minutes to get to room temperature or the specified temperature before beginning the experiment.
  • Additionally, frozen samples must thaw completely, and the number of freeze-thaw cycles should be kept to a minimum—no more than three.
  • Maintain consistent ambient conditions during and between experiments, such as temperature and humidity.
  • Ensure that every piece of equipment, such as readers, plate washers, and pipettes, is calibrated.
  • Use enough of the antibody.
  • Use fresh preparation of substrate solutions over storing them for many hours before usage.
  • During testing, handle samples consistently and adhere to the same protocols.
  • Visually inspect the tips and wells during the procedure to ensure aspiration, reagent addition, and withdrawal. Levels should be the same.
  • To get more use out of your reagent, mix lots across the ELISA assay. Each ELISA kit is assembled such that the components function as a unit. A lot of mixing between tests may have a negative impact on results.
  • Reagents should never be put back in the bottle once used.
  • After testing, keep the tray shut to protect the wells from drying out.

Tips For Successful Cytokine Detection

ELISA samples should always be done in triplicate or double

Source: Unsplash

1. Sample Preparation

Before beginning your main experiments, use a tiny sample to determine the proper dilution range. Your samples must be compatible with the format of the microtiter plate test. There will always be a variation in the amount of biological markers being examined.

Since you are looking for data that fits inside your sample standard curve, use the kit's instructions as a guide. Be advised that samples containing bilirubin or other interfering factors will result in erroneous findings. The following samples can be used with ELISA kits: cell lysates, serum, saliva, plasma, and cell culture supernatants.

2. Titrated Standards Of Known Concentrations

Titrated ELISA standards of established concentrations are essential to any ELISA since they enable the user to ascertain the antigen concentration in the test samples. To create a standard curve, a series of wells is usually set aside, and known quantities of a purified recombinant protein are progressively added to the wells.

The user can then get a reference set of absorbance values for known protein concentrations from a microplate reader to go along with the absorbance values for the test samples when these wells are processed concurrently with the test samples.

After that, you can compute a standard curve against which the test samples can be compared to ascertain the concentration of the desired protein. The level of accuracy with which the user made their dilutions may also be verified using the standard curve.

3. Addition Of A Substrate

The amount of enzyme in the well directly correlates with how much of the ELISA substrate is converted to a product. The most often seen enzymes attached to antibodies are alkaline phosphatase (AP) and horseradish peroxidase (HRP). As could be assumed, various substrates tailored to each enzyme that result in a fluorescent or chromogenic product are available.

Additionally, substrates come in a variety of sensitivities, which might raise the assay's total sensitivity. When selecting the appropriate substrate and enzyme-conjugated antibody, you must also consider the equipment for reading the ELISA plate at the experiment's conclusion.

4. Detection And Analysis

One conventional method for figuring out the sensitivity of an ELISA is to select the lowest concentration of cytokines that produce a signal that is at least two or three standard deviations above the average background signal value.

Specific cytokine and chemokine proteins are present in mixed cytokine milieus, such as stimulated lymphocyte culture supernatants. So, the sandwich ELISA can quantify physiologically relevant amounts of these proteins due to the enzyme-mediated amplification of the detection antibody signal.

How To Analyze ELISA Data

1. Calculation Of Results

The unknown samples' values are determined by comparing them to the standard curve during an ELISA. In the case of sample dilution, the dilution factor needs to be multiplied by the concentration value obtained from the standard curve.ELISA samples should always be done in triplicate or double to provide results with sufficient data to be statistically validated.

For every standard, control, and sample, average the duplicate or triplicate measurements and deduct the average zero standard optical density (OD). Duplicate data should have a coefficient of variation (CV) of no more than 20%.

2. Standard Curve

Plot the mean absorbance versus the protein concentration using computer software to create a standard curve. Ensure you follow the ELISA test protocol's suggested data reduction technique.

A standard cytokine protein solution of known concentration is serially diluted to create a standard curve that is added to a sandwich ELISA test. These standard curves are also known as "calibration curves." They are often made by plotting the standard cytokine protein concentration (usually expressed as ng or pg of cytokine/ml) against the corresponding mean OD value of duplicates.

It is possible to extrapolate the concentrations of the suspected cytokine-containing samples from the standard curve. An ELISA computer software program facilitates this operation. To ensure that the OD will lie inside the linear region of the standard curve, ensure you carry out a dilution series of the unknown samples. Researchers can opt to apply various curve fit analyses to their data, such as linear-log, log-log, or four-parameter transformations, depending on the kind of ELISA reagents employed.

In the event that software is not available, the ELISA data analysis can be linearized by graphing the concentration logs against the OD logs on a linear scale. Regression analysis may be used to find the best-fit line. This process will produce a sufficient but less accurate fit of the data.

3. Calculating The Coefficient Of Variation

The coefficient of variation (CV) describes the standard deviation to mean ratio, commonly represented as a percentage. The CV calculation is crucial since it might reveal any discrepancies or errors in your ELISA data. Duplicate data should have a coefficient of variation (CV) of no more than 20%. A higher CV denotes more inaccuracies and potential mistakes.

ELISA Troubleshooting Of Common Issues

ELISA techniques have been modified to quantify antigen levels

Source: Unsplash

Every ELISA has certain disadvantages. First, there's the question of how much of the target protein is present in the test samples. Absorbance readings produced by the microplate reader may fall beyond or below the limits of the standard curve, respectively, if the quantity is too high or too low. As a result, it will be challenging to estimate the precise quantity of protein in the test samples.

If the readings are very high, dilute the test sample before putting it into the plate's wells. According to the dilution factor, the final numbers must be modified. DIY kits sometimes need the antibody concentrations to be carefully optimized for a good signal-to-noise ratio.

Bottom Line

Various ELISA techniques have been modified to quantify antigen levels in diverse experimental specimens. However, the fundamental idea behind them all is the same. The intricacy of the samples to be examined and the availability of antigen-specific antibodies are crucial considerations when selecting whether to undertake an indirect or sandwich ELISA for cytokine detection.

When determining the result of an immune response, such as figuring out how much antibody is in a sample, you use the indirect ELISA. When examining complicated samples where the analyte, or target antigen, is present in a mixed sample, like tissue lysates or culture supernatants, sandwich ELISA is the most appropriate method.

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