Precipitation Reaction

Örjan TG Ouchterlony, Department of Medical Microbiology and Immunology, University of Götenborg, Götenborg, Sweden

Copyright © 1998 Elsevier Ltd. All Rights Reserved.

Immunoprecipitation is a process that takes place when a solution of antigen is mixed with corresponding precipitating antibodies and, as a result, a visible precipitate or aggregating floccules are formed. The original observation of this serological phenomenon was made by R. Kraus in 1897, when he tested filtrates of cholera, plague and typhoid bacterial cultures with corresponding immune sera. A serological specificity of the reactions was observed. Since then, a multitude of precipitation techniques for qualitative and quantitative analyses has been developed. Their application has led to observations of fundamental value for revealing and understanding the immunospecific phenomenon of antigen-antibody binding, its physiochemical background and biological implications. Among pioneers in this field of research may be mentioned K. Landsteiner (serological specificity), G. Ramon (flocculation), M. Heidelberger, E.F. Kendall, E.A. Kabat (quantitative immunochemistry), J.R. Marrack, L. Pauling (molecular structure and intermolecular forces) and J. Oudin (diffusion-in-gel).

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