Improved multiplex immunoassay performance in human plasma and synovial fluid following removal of interfering heterophilic antibodies

J Immunol Methods. 2005 May;300(1-2):124-35. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2005.03.009.


Cytokines, chemokines and soluble adhesion molecules interact in a complex network within the immune system. Fingerprinting of these proteins may allow the use of these proteins as biomarkers for identification of disease, disease subtyping and monitoring therapeutic interventions. We developed a multiplex immunoassay (MIA) for the detection of 30 proteins in a variety of human body fluids such as plasma and synovial fluid (SF). The measurement of these proteins is hampered by the presence of human (auto-) antibodies, which can cause non-specific binding. We have validated a novel approach for the removal of interfering immunoglobulins using pre-absorption with protein-L. Interfering (auto-) antibodies, such as rheumatoid factor (RF), were removed using three methods; polyethylene glycol (PEG) precipitation, pre-absorption with human gamma-globulin or pre-absorption with protein-L. A significant decrease of RF was observed after a 2 h incubation with protein-L. RF IgM levels were reduced by 89% whereas total IgM, IgG and IgA levels were reduced by 60%. Residual immunoglobulins were blocked with rodent serum and did not interfere with the multiplex immunoassay. Comparing the MIA with a conventional enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) using a panel of spiked plasma samples resulted in correlation coefficients for all mediators between R2 = 0.88 and R2 = 0.99. Intra-assay variance was less than 10% whereas inter-assay variance ranged between 6% and 16%. Pathological samples with heterophilic antibodies hamper immunoassays such as ELISA and MIA. We show that pre-absorption with protein-L is a powerful tool for removal of interfering immunoglobulins from human bodily fluids to be used in immunoassays for studying changes in protein patterns.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Heterophile / blood
  • Antibodies, Heterophile / isolation & purification*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / blood
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / metabolism
  • Autoantibodies / blood
  • Autoantibodies / isolation & purification
  • Blood Proteins / analysis*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Chemokines / analysis
  • Chemokines / blood
  • Cytokines / analysis
  • Cytokines / blood
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods*
  • Osteoarthritis / blood
  • Osteoarthritis / immunology
  • Osteoarthritis / metabolism
  • Synovial Fluid / chemistry*
  • Synovial Fluid / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Heterophile
  • Autoantibodies
  • Blood Proteins
  • Chemokines
  • Cytokines