AIMS: To develop a specific radioimmunoassay for the routine determination of serum vitamin B12. METHODS: Antisera were raised in rabbits by immunisation with the monocarboxylic acid derivative of cyanocobalamin coupled to human serum albumin. Antibody titres and affinities were determined and the antiserum giving the highest binding affinity constant, Ka, was used to develop the assay protocol. Donkey-anti-rabbit gamma globulin-coated magnetisable particles were used to separate the bound from free vitamin B12. The considerable cobalamin binding capacity of human serum was destroyed by autoclaving in acetate-cyanide buffer. Sixty samples were assayed by the radioimmunoassay (RIA) and the Lactobacillus leichmannii assay. Recovery and cross-reactivity experiments were performed. RESULTS: Final rabbit antibody titres varied from 1/20,000 to 1/188,000. Scatchard plots did not correlate with the antibody titres. The Ka values varied from 2.6 to 6.7 x 10(10) litres/mol. For maximum sensitivity the highest Ka (titre 1/66,000) was chosen. A tracer concentration of 22 pmol/l, an antiserum dilution of 1/100,000, and a sample volume of 0.1 ml were used. At an antiserum dilution of 1 in 100,000 the cyanocobalamin binding of the rabbit serum was diluted out. The assay showed excellent correlation with the microbiological assay, with 100% recovery of added vitamin B12. Levels of cross-reactivity for dicyanide cobinamide and hydroxocobalamin were 9.8 and 8.1%, respectively. CONCLUSIONS: The development of this immunoassay permits the measurement of serum vitamin B12 without important interference from cobalamin analogues, related corrinoids, and non-specific binders.
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