Mobility measurements of immunomagnetically labeled cells allow quantitation of secondary antibody binding amplification

Kara E. McCloskey, Kristin Comella, Jeffrey J. Chalmers, Shlomo Margel, Maciej Zborowski

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Magnetic cell separation methods commonly utilize paramagnetic materials conjugated to antibodies that target specific cell surface molecules. The amount of magnetic material bound to a cell is directly proportional to the magnetophoretic mobility of that cell. A mathematical model has been developed which characterizes the fundamental parameters controling the amount of magnetic material bound, and thus, the magnetophoretic mobility of an immunomagnetically labeled cell. In characterization of the paramagnetic labeling, one of the parameters of interest is the increase in magnetophoretic mobility due to the secondary antibody binding to multiple epitopes on the primary antibody, referred to as the "secondary antibody binding amplification," ψ. Secondary antibody-binding amplification has been investigated and quantitated by comparing the mobilities of lymphocytes directly labeled with anti-CD4 MACS™ (Miltenyi Biotec, Auburn, CA) magnetic nanoparticle antibody with the mobilities of lymphocytes from the same sample labeled with two different indirect antibody-labeling schemes. Each indirect labeling scheme incorporated a primary mouse anti-CD4 FITC antibody that provides both FITC and mouse-specific binding sites for two different secondary antibody-magnetic nanoparticle conjugates: either anti-FITC MACS magnetic nanoparticle antibody or anti-mouse MACS magnetic nanoparticle antibody. The magnetophoretic mobilities of the immunomagnetically labeled cells were obtained using Cell Tracking Velocimetry (CTV). The results indicate that an average of 3.4 anti-FITC MACS magnetic nanoparticle antibodies bind to each primary CD4 FITC antibody, ψ1,2f = 3.4 ± 0.33, and that approximately one, ψ1.2m = 0.98 ± 0.081, anti-mouse MACS magnetic nanoparticle antibody binds to each primary mouse CD4 FITC antibody on a CD4 positive lymphocyte. These results have provided a better understanding of the antibody-binding mechanisms used in paramagnetic cell labeling for magnetic cell separation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)642-655
Number of pages14
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - 20 Dec 2001


  • Antibody binding capacity
  • Antigen density
  • Magnetic cell separation
  • Magnetophoretic mobility
  • Particle tracking velocimetry
  • Quantitative flow cytometry


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