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ELISA Assays: Indirect, Sandwich, and Competitive

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Transcript

Enzyme-linked Immunosorbent Assay, or ELISA is a highly sensitive quantitative assay commonly used to measure the concentration of an analyte like cytokines and antibodies in a biological sample. The general principle of this assay involves three steps: starting with capture, or immobilization, of the target analyte on a micro plate, followed by the detection of the analyte by target-specific detection proteins, and lastly, enzyme reaction, where a conjugated enzyme converts its substrate to a colored product. Based on different methods of capture and detection, ELISA can be of four types: direct, indirect, sandwich, and competitive.

For direct ELISA, the target antigen is first bound to the plate, and is then detected by a specific detection antibody. This method is commonly used for screening antibodies for a specific antigen. Indirect ELISA is used for detecting antibodies in a sample in order to quantify immune responses. The plate is first coated with a specific capture antigen, which immobilizes the target antibody, and this antigen-antibody complex is then detected using a second antibody.

In the case of sandwich ELISA, the target analyte is an antigen, which is captured on the plate using a capture antibody and then detected by the detection antibody, hence forming an antibody-antigen-antibody sandwich. This method is useful for measuring the concentration of an antigen in a mixed sample.

Competitive ELISA is used when only one antibody is available for a target antigen of interest. The plate is first coated with the purified antigen. Meanwhile, the sample containing the antigen is pre-incubated with the antibody and then added to the plate, to allow any free antibody molecules to bind to the immobilized antigen. The higher the signal from the plate, the lower the antigen concentration in the sample. In all of the four types of ELISA, direct, indirect, sandwich, and competitive, the detection antibody is either directly conjugated to the enzyme or can be indirectly linked to it through another antibody or protein.

The enzymes commonly used for the reaction are horseradish peroxidase or alkaline phosphatase with their respective substrates, both producing a soluble, colored product that can be measured and quantified using a plate reader. In this video, you will observe how to perform indirect ELISA, sandwich ELISA, and competitive ELISA, followed by examples of quantification of the target analyte from the indirect and sandwich ELISA methods.

The first experiment will demonstrate how to use indirect ELISA to determine the presence of anti-influenza virus antibodies in serum obtained from influenza-infected mice.

To begin, add 50 microliters of purified antigen - in this case, 2 milligrams per milliliter of purified A/PR/8 Influenza A virus- to each well of a 96-well ELISA plate. Next, cover the plate with an adhesive cover and incubate it overnight at 4 degrees celsius to allow the antigen to bind to the plate. The following day, remove the coating solution by flicking the plate over a sink. Next, block the remaining protein-binding sites in the coated wells by adding 200 microliters of a blocking buffer- here, 5% donkey serum in 1X PBS- to each well. Leave the plate to incubate for at least 2 hours at room temperature. Following the incubation, remove the blocking buffer and then wash the plate by adding 200 microliters of 1X PBS containing 1% Tween-20. Flick the plate over the sink once more to remove the wash.

Then, prepare the test samples by adding 460 microliters of PBS to a fresh tube, and then adding 40 microliters of serum to make a 1 to 12.5 dilution. Then, add 300 microliters of PBS to a second tube, and then add 100 microliters of the first dilution. Continue this serial dilution range until obtaining a final sample with a dilution of 1 to 204,800. Add the serially diluted serum samples in triplicate to the wells. Cover the plate with an adhesive cover and incubate at room temperature for an hour. Next, remove the samples by flicking the plate into the sink and then wash the plate by adding 200 microliters of 1X PBS containing 1% Tween-20. Once again, flick the plate to remove the wash.

Now, add 100 microliters of an enzyme-conjugated secondary antibody, which in this experiment is a horseradish peroxidase, or HRP, conjugated donkey anti-mouse secondary, to each well. Incubate the plate for one hour at room temperature, and flick the plate to remove any excess liquid. Wash the plate with 1X PBS containing 1% Tween-20 and then apply 100 microliters of the indicator substrate at a concentration of one milligram per milliliter to each well. Incubate the plate with the substrate for 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature. In this example, the colorless 3,3', 5,5' - tetramethylbenzidine, or TMB, substrate turns a blue color when HRP is present. After 10 minutes, stop the enzymatic reaction by adding 100 microliters of 2N sulfuric acid. The samples will turn a yellow color.

Within 30 minutes of adding the stop solution, insert the plate into a microplate reader and read the plate at the appropriate wavelength for the substrate to determine the absorbance of the wells.

To begin the sandwich ELISA, the plate must be coated with purified capture antibody. To do this, add 100 microliters of the capture antibody at a concentration within the 1-10 microgram per milliliter range, to each well of a 96-well ELISA plate. Next, cover the plate with an adhesive plate cover and then incubate the plate overnight at 4 degrees celsius. After the incubation, remove the coating solution by flicking the plate over a sink.

Now, block the remaining protein- binding sites in the coated wells by adding 200 microliters of 5% nonfat dry milk to the wells. Incubate the plate at room temperature for at least 2 hours. Next, remove the blocking buffer, and then wash the wells with 1X PBS containing 1% Tween-20. Remove the wash by flicking the plate over the sink. Now, add 100 microliters of the test sample to the wells, seal the plate with an adhesive cover, and then incubate it at room temperature for 2 hours. After incubation, remove the samples by flicking the plate over the sink and then wash the wells with 200 microliters of 1X PBS containing 1% Tween-20. Flick the plate over the sink to remove the wash and then add 100 microliters of enzyme-conjugated detection antibody to the wells.

Seal the plate with an adhesive cover. Leave the plate to incubate at room temperature for 2 hours. After the incubation, remove the unbound detection antibody by flicking the plate over a sink and wash the wells with 200 microliters of 1X PBS containing 1% Tween-20. Next, add 100 microliters of the indicator substrate at a concentration of 1 milligram per milliliter, and incubate the plate for 5 to 10 minutes at room temperature. After 10 minutes, stop the enzymatic reaction by adding 100 microliters of 2N sulfuric acid to the wells and then read the plate within 30 minutes of adding the stop solution in a microplate reader.

To perform a competitive ELISA, first coat the wells of a 96-well ELISA plate with 100 microliters of purified antigen at a concentration of 1-10 micrograms per milliliter. Cover the plate with an adhesive plate cover and then incubate overnight at 4 degrees celsius. Following this, remove the unbound antigen solution from the wells by flicking the plate over a sink.

Next, block the remaining protein-binding sites in the coated wells by adding 200 microliters of blocking buffer to each well- here, 5% nonfat dry milk in PBS. Incubate the plate for at least 2 hours at room temperature. While blocking the wells, prepare the antigen-antibody mixture in a 1. 5 milliliter tube by adding 150 microliters of sample antigen to 150 microliters of primary antibody for each well in the assay. Incubate this mixture for 1 hour at 37 degrees celsius. Now, remove the blocking buffer from the wells by flicking the plate over a sink. Then, wash the wells with 1X PBS containing Tween 20 and then add 100 microliters of the sample antigen- primary antibody mixture.

Leave the plate to incubate at 37 degrees celsius for one hour. Next, remove the sample mixture by flicking the plate over a sink and then wash the wells with 1X PBS containing 1% Tween-20 to remove any unbound antibody. Add 100 microliters of an enzyme-conjugated secondary antibody to each well and incubate the plate for one hour at 37 degrees celsius. Following this, wash the plate with 1X PBS containing 1% Tween-20 and then add 100 microliters of the substrate solution to each well. Wait for 5-10 minutes. After 10 minutes, stop the enzymatic reaction by adding 100 microliters of 2N sulfuric acid and then measure the absorbance in a microplate reader within 30 minutes of adding the stop solution.

For the semi-quantitative indirect ELISA assay, the presence of influenza A virus antibodies in serially diluted samples of serum from influenza A- infected mice was determined by reading the absorbance of each well at 405 nanometers in a plate reader. This raw data is exported to a spread sheet for calculation purposes. In this experiment, the serially diluted serum samples, which range from 1 - 12.5, to 1 - 204,800, were repeated in triplicate.

To analyze the data, the mean absorbance value is therefore calculated for each set of triplicates by adding all the values for each dilution and dividing the sum by 3. Once the mean for each set of triplicates is determined, the mean OD450 readings are plotted against the serial dilutions. The OD readings decrease as the serum is diluted, indicating that less antibodies are found in the more diluted samples. In the quantitative sandwich ELISA, dilutions of known standard, in this case recombinate Human TNFalpha, were added to a 96-well plate and read along with the unknown samples.

To create the standard curve, the mean absorbance value for each set of readings of the known concentrations was calculated. Then, the mean absorbance value was plotted on the y-axis, against the known protein concentrations on the x-axis. A best fit curve is added through the points in the graph.

Once the standard curve is generated, the amount of TNFalpha protein in the test sample can be determined by first calculating the mean absorbance value for the test sample. In this example, the test samples gave OD450 readings of 0.636 and 0. 681. Adding these values and dividing the sum by 2 gives an average of 0.659. From the y-axis on the standard curve graph, extend a horizontal line from this absorbance value to the standard curve. At the point of intersection, extend a vertical line to the x-axis and read the corresponding concentration which, in this test sample, corresponds to a TNFalpha concentration of 38.72 picograms per milliliter.

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