Automated detection of neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in minutes using a competitive chemiluminescence immunoassay

Anal Bioanal Chem. 2023 Jan;415(3):391-404. doi: 10.1007/s00216-022-04416-6. Epub 2022 Nov 8.


The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has shown the importance of rapid and comprehensive diagnostic tools. While there are numerous rapid antigen tests available, rapid serological assays for the detection of neutralizing antibodies are and will be needed to determine not only the amount of antibodies formed after infection or vaccination but also their neutralizing potential, preventing the cell entry of SARS-CoV-2. Current active-virus neutralization assays require biosafety level 3 facilities, while virus-free surrogate assays are more versatile in applications, but still take typically several hours until results are available. To overcome these disadvantages, we developed a competitive chemiluminescence immunoassay that enables the detection of neutralizing SARS-CoV-2 antibodies within 7 min. The neutralizing antibodies bind to the viral receptor binding domain (RBD) and inhibit the binding to the human angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. This competitive binding inhibition test was characterized with a set of 80 samples, which could all be classified correctly. The assay results favorably compare to those obtained with a more time-intensive ELISA-based neutralization test and a commercial surrogate neutralization assay. Our test could further be used to detect individuals with a high total IgG antibody titer, but only a low neutralizing titer, as well as for monitoring neutralizing antibodies after vaccinations. This effective performance in SARS-CoV-2 seromonitoring delineates the potential for the test to be adapted to other diseases in the future.

Keywords: COVID-19 serology; Chemiluminescence immunoassay; Competitive immunoassay; Neutralizing antibodies; Protein-receptor interaction; SARS-CoV-2.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Automation, Laboratory
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay
  • Luminescence
  • SARS-CoV-2*


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral