Antibody multispecificity in immunoassay interference

Clin Biochem. 1992 Apr;25(2):77-87. doi: 10.1016/0009-9120(92)80048-l.


Recent findings indicate that many endogenous antibodies exhibit multispecificity. These antibodies exhibit a potential for interference with immunoassays. Antibodies that interfere with immunoassays have been called heterophile or heterophilic antibodies. The purpose of this review is: (1) to identify the nature of heterophile antibodies; (2) to delineate the processes that produce them; (3) to examine the mechanisms by which these antibodies cause interference; and (4) to explore how this information can be used to reduce immunoassay interference. In addition to producing specific antibodies, the process of antibody production gives rise to rudimentary antibodies that are polyspecific; e.g., the antigen-combining site has an affinity for antigens of different chemical composition. This process also generates idiotypic antibodies containing cross-reactive idiotopes. These antibodies along with rheumatoid factors, which are themselves polyspecific and rich in cross-reactive idiotopes, are inherent parts of the process of antibody production, and exhibit multispecificity. Mechanisms by which these antibodies cause immunoassay interference are outlined. These properties of antibodies may have substantial consequence in directing future assays toward greater clinical predictive value.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Heterophile / immunology
  • Antibody Specificity*
  • Cross Reactions
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay* / methods


  • Antibodies, Heterophile