Polyclonal antibodies are heterogeneous and complex mixtures of immunoglobulins produced by different B cells, which recognize different epitopes within the same antigen.
These characteristics give polyclonal antibodies some virtues compared to monoclonal ones in certain applications, techniques and / or tests.
In this entry we collect 3 advantages of polyclonal antibodies that make them the reagents of choice in certain situations.
Regarding the production method, polyclonal antibodies have the following advantages over monoclonal ones:
- Production is much faster, being able to obtain polyclonal antibodies purified and ready for use in just 45 days .
- The production system is not expensive.
- The production method is less complex.
- They can be generated in a wide variety of host animals (You can expand the information in this entry on Species for the production of antibodies, which is better? ).
2.- Sensitivity, Affinity And Robustness
By recognizing multiple epitopes of the same antigen, polyclonal antibodies offer greater sensitivity, affinity, and robustness than monoclonal antibodies:
Binding to several epitopes makes the affinity for the target higher, and this generally implies faster binding to the antigen, which is a great advantage in assays such as immunoprecipitation that require rapid capture of the protein.
The recognition of multiple epitopes also results in an increase in sensitivity when amplifying the signal, favoring the detection of proteins present in low quantities.
In the case of slight variations in individual epitopes as a consequence of polymorphisms, denaturation or conformational changes, the results obtained with polyclonal antibodies will be more robust due to their ability to bind to different epitopes of the same antigen.
In general, polyclonal antibodies are more stable than monoclonal antibodies and therefore easier to store because:
- They better tolerate buffer, pH and temperature changes.
- Due to the biophysical diversity in terms of charges and hydrophobicity offered by polyclonal antibodies, they present greater stability against phenomena that could lead to precipitation or inactivation in the case of monoclonal antibodies.
In conclusion, the advantages of polyclonal antibodies can be summarized in that they are easier to produce and store, and offer multiple benefits compared to monoclonal antibodies thanks to their ability to recognize various epitopes of the same antigen.