Table of Contents
ISRN Toxicology
Volume 2012, Article ID 942804, 8 pages
Research Article

Affinity and Matrix Effects in Measuring Fish Plasma Vitellogenin Using Immunosorbent Assays: Considerations for Aquatic Toxicologists

1Aquatic Toxicology Laboratory, Saint Cloud State University, WSB-273, 270 Fourth Avenue South, St. Cloud, MN 56301, USA
2Department of Biology, Normandale Community College, Bloomington, MN 55431, USA

Received 10 July 2012; Accepted 16 August 2012

Academic Editors: C. L. Chern, A. Cruz, V. Matozzo, and M. Pacheco

Copyright © 2012 Stephen E. Bartell and Heiko L. Schoenfuss. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) are important tools in aquatic toxicology and have become crucial in assessing exposure concentrations in the aquatic environment and acute physiological responses in exposed organisms. These assays utilize the inherent properties of antibodies to recognize and selectively bind a target molecule, while largely ignoring other molecules to provide semiquantitative values. A variety of methodologies to measure plasma vitellogenin using ELISAs have generated widely divergent data. Limitations of the ELISA method are known in the wider immunology field, though aquatic toxicologists may be less familiar with these limitations. We evaluated several mechanisms contributing to the divergent vitellogenin data in the literature. Antibody affinities and the matrix in which standard curves are constructed are possible error generators. These errors can be amplified by large sample dilutions necessary to fall within the standard curve. It is important for the aquatic toxicology research community to realize the limitations and understand the pitfalls of absolute plasma vitellogenin data in their studies.