Effects of Prozone

Written by lauren griffin
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Effects of Prozone
(holder with test tubes image by alma_sacra from Fotolia.com)

The prozone effect is observed when a high antibody concentration prevents a characteristic result of a test for antibodies and antigens, typically agglutination. During such an agglutination test, a patient's antibody-containing sample goes into a test tube holding a specific antigen. Testers then look for the antibody and antigen to clump together. An atypical result is known as prozone effect.

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The Prozone Effect

The prozone effect is a lack of agglutination or clumping during tests for antibodies. It may result when the concentrations of antibodies are too high. During the prozone effect, extremely small antibody-antigen complexes fail to clump together and agglutinate visibly.

Clinical Effects of the Prozone Effect

Since the results of the agglutination test are not accurately displayed, the prozone effect may lead to a false negative result. This means that despite negative readings, the test results are actually positive. Due to the use and nature of agglutination tests, false negative results can be dangerous; for instance, patients with a bacterial infection may be told they do not have one.

Avoiding the Prozone Effect

While the prozone effect may have serious consequences concerning the results of blood serum testing, proper dilution of the antibodies can help prevent its likelihood. Test creators should know the appropriate level of dilution for the antibody-antigen mixture to best allow agglutination and proper results.

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