Unraveling the Hook Effect: A Comprehensive Study of High Antigen Concentration Effects in Sandwich Lateral Flow Immunoassays

Georgina M.S. Ross, Daniel Filippini, Michel W.F. Nielen, Gert I.J. Salentijn*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

Sandwich lateral flow immunoassays (LFIAs) are limited at high antigen concentrations by the hook effect, leading to a contradictory decrease in the test line (T) intensity and false-negative results. The hook effect is mainly associated with the loss of T, and research focuses on minimizing this effect. Nevertheless, the control line (C) intensity is also affected at higher analyte concentrations, undesirably influencing the T/C ratio in LFIA readers. The main aim of this work is to identify and understand these high antigen concentration effects in order to develop ubiquitous strategies to interpret and mitigate such effects. Four complementary experiments were performed: performance assessment of three different allergen LFIAs (two for hazelnut, one for peanut) over 0.075-3500 ppm, LFIAs with C only, surface plasmon resonance (SPR) binding experiments on the immobilized control antibody, and smartphone video recording of LFIAs during their development. As antigen concentrations increase, the C signal decreases before the T signal does, suggesting that distinct mechanisms underlie these intensity reductions. Reduced binding at the C occurred even in the absence of T, so the upfront T does not explain the loss of C. SPR confirmed that the C antibody favors binding with free labeled antibody compared with a labeled antibody-analyte complex, indicating that in antigen excess, binding is reduced at C before T. Finally, a smartphone-based video method was developed for dynamically monitoring the LFIA development in real time to distinguish between different concentration-dependent effects. Digitally analyzing the data allows clear differentiation of highly positive samples and false-negative samples and can indicate whether the LFIA is in the dynamic working range or at critically high concentrations. The aim of this work is to identify and understand such high antigen concentration effects in order to develop ubiquitous strategies to interpret and mitigate such effects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15587–15595
JournalAnalytical Chemistry
Volume92
Issue number23
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2020

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