Definition: An assay that uses an enzyme-bound antibody to detect antigen. The enzyme catalyzes a color reaction when exposed to substrate.
Enzyme Immunoassay Techniques. An Overview: In spite of the great variety of enzyme immunoassays (EIA) they can be classified into two groups 'analyte-observed' and 'reagent-observed' assays, depending on their reaction principle. The latter are favored by use of monoclonal antibodies and are characterized by a greater sensitivity, a larger measuring range, a lower susceptibility to disturbing influences. They can be used only for detection of macromolecules. For heterogeneous EIAs to be used on laboratory scale, simple adsorption of antigens and antibodies is still recommendable though affinity constants decrease by at least one order of magnitude and antibody density at the solid phase and analyte binding capacity are not parallel due to increasing steric hindrance. For this reason, the antibody with the higher affinity constant should therefore always be used as solid-phase antibody. Microparticles used as solid phase for heterogeneous assays, due to their very high binding capacity for the analyte and extremely short diffusion distances, guarantee 'one step' assays of only a few minutes. Of the limited number of enzymes suitable as markers in immunoassays, horseradish peroxidase is the enzyme of choice followed by alkaline phosphatase. Although enzyme and enzyme-labelled reagents are detectable by fluorogenic product measuring with a sensitivity, which is 10-1000 times higher than using chromogenic substrates, the sensitivity of the assays can be increased only by factor 2-10. Labelling enzymes cannot only be covalently bound to the antibody, but also via anti-enzyme antibodies. Pros and cons of the different methods of coupling the enzyme/anti-enzyme complex to analyte-containing immune complexes are discussed. Different EIA variants to detect specific antibodies are reviewed. Among them only capture EIAs permit precise isotype analysis of antibodies of a distinct idiotype. Homogeneous EIAs are widely spread for hapten determination but even variants based on proximal linkage are no alternatives to heterogeneous EIAs for determination of macromolecules. Different parameters are defined which permit to assess the quality of an immunoassay and which should be used in routine assays as internal controls in the laboratory.