A gold nanoparticle-based colorimetric antibody structure and activity evaluation method is developed without using complicated and expensive instrumentation. In this assay, a minimum number of antibodies to stabilize nanoparticles are conjugated to gold nanoparticles to prepare minimally stable nanoparticle probes, and the addition of salt rapidly induced particle aggregation and a color change of the solution from red to blue (25-min assay time). It is found that the solution color change is affected by the degree of structural denaturation of antibodies, and the conformational change of antibodies affects the modification of antibodies to nanoparticles and particle stability. Importantly, the colorimetric method can be applied to different types of antibodies (IgG, IgA, and IgM) and it shows comparable or better structural sensitivity than conventional circular dichroism spectroscopy. Moreover, immunoassay results show that these structural changes of antibodies are highly correlated with their antigen-binding activities. Rapid particle aggregation and high structural sensitivity are achieved in this assay because particles are modified with a minimum number of antibodies to stabilize particles in solution. This nanoparticle-based colorimetric method could be useful in evaluating the structural and activity changes of an array of antibodies in an easy, rapid, and sensitive manner.
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