Novel Bead-Based Epitope Assay is a sensitive and reliable tool for profiling epitope-specific antibody repertoire in food allergy
December 5, 2019
Citation: Sci Rep. 2019 Dec 5; 9(1): 18425

Identification of allergenic IgE epitopes is instrumental for the development of novel diagnostic and prognostic methods in food allergy. In this work, we present the quantification and validation of a Bead-Based Epitope Assay (BBEA) that through multiplexing of epitopes and multiple sample processing enables completion of large experiments in a short period of time, using minimal quantities of patients' blood. Peptides that are uniquely coupled to beads are incubated with serum or plasma samples, and after a secondary fluorophore-labeled antibody is added, the level of fluorescence is quantified with a Luminex reader. The signal is then normalized and converted to epitope-specific antibody binding values. We show that the effect of technical artifacts, i.e. well position or reading order, is minimal; and batch effects - different individual microplate runs - can be easily estimated and eliminated from the data. Epitope-specific antibody binding quantified with BBEA is highly reliable, reproducible and has greater sensitivity of epitope detection compared to peptide microarrays. IgE directed at allergenic epitopes is a sensitive biomarker of food allergy and can be used to predict allergy severity and phenotypes; and quantification of the relationship between epitope-specific IgE and IgG4 can further improve our understanding of the immune mechanisms behind allergic sensitization.