Application of the four-parameter logistic model to bioassay: comparison with slope ratio and parallel line models

Biometrics. 1978 Sep;34(3):357-65.


Bioassays with a quantitative response showing a sigmoid log-dose relationship can be analysed by fitting a non-linear dose-response model directly to the data. It is demonstrated that the four-parameter logistic model, previously applied to immunoassay (Healy 1972), is applicable to the free fat cell bioassay of insulin (Moody, Stan, Stan and Gliemann 1974). It is shown that the standard slope ratio and parallel line models for bioassay can be considered as approximations to the logistic in the extreme dose regions, while the parallel line model can be expected to fit in the middle region. The full statistical analysis of the four-parameter logistic model applied to a general assay design is described. An APL computer program has been developed to facilitate the calculations, which include non-linear curve-fitting, tests of goodness of fit and parallelity, as well as point and interval estimates of the relative potency. Examples of free fat cell bioassays of insulin that have been analysed according to these methods are given. Efficient estimation of the potency calls for concentrating the doses in the region with the steepest slope of the dose-response curve. With respect to testing the parallelity and to allow for assay-to-assay variability and unpredictable potencies, it may be preferable to use an assay design with doses distributed over a wide range and to apply a dose-response model which, like the four-parameter logistic, is capable of fitting over the whole feasible dose range.

MeSH terms

  • Biological Assay / methods*
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Models, Biological