Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is a new method in alkaloid studies. The application of ELISA to alkaloid study is based on antibody incubations. It differs from classical precipitation-based methods in that specific antigen-antibody interactions are recognized by assaying an enzyme label conjugated to one reactant, usually an antibody. Because of the sensitivity with which enzyme markers can be detected by their reaction with an appropriate substrate, ELISA offers several possibilities of greater sensitivity. In this technique, an enzyme is labelled with an alkaloid molecule. The labelled enzyme is then bound by an antialkaloid antibody. In the complex, the enzyme is rendered inactive. When a free alkaloid (e.g., hydroxylupanine) is present, it competes with the enzyme alkaloid for antibody-binding sites again and reacts with the bacterial substrate present in the tube. The enzyme activity is directly related to the concentration of free alkaloid in the sample297.
Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay is a heterogenous immunoassay. Reactions involve a solid phase to which components are sequentially presented and successively bound. This method is very effective in the determination of the total alkaloid content. The positive characteristics of this method are the use of non-toxic reagents and basic equipment with low costs, a small sample volume and the ability to measure alkaloids in crude sample extracts. According to the literature, compared with results obtained from GLC, the precision of ELISA for quinolizidine alkaloids is not as high as that of the gas chromatography procedure, but is adequate for plant breeding purposes. The use of enzymes in developing the methods of quinolizidine alkaloids analysis looks likely to increase in the future.
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