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Direct Immunofluorescence or Indirect Immunofluorescence Detection

2021-02-22
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Direct and indirect methods are not limited to immunofluorescence, they are also related to other technologies that rely on fluorescent dyes, enzymes or colored particles coupled to antibodies, such as flow cytometry, ELISA, and immunohistochemistry.
But these two methods are different. As shown in the table below, both methods have their pros and cons:

direct indirect
TimeThe direct method protocol is usually shorter because it requires only one labeling step.Using a conjugated secondary antibody to detect the primary antibody will add additional steps.
CostConjugated primary antibodies are usually more expensive than unconjugated primary antibodies.Compared with the primary antibody, the secondary antibody is relatively cheaper. Using the same conjugated secondary antibody to detect different primary antibodies can further save costs.
The complexityThe experimental scheme of the direct method has fewer steps and is simpler.In the indirect method, an appropriate secondary antibody must be selected, which increases the complexity. This situation is particularly prominent in multicolor experiments that require the use of multiple secondary antibodies. Each secondary antibody needs to target a different species and be coupled to a different dye.
FlexibilityThe conjugated primary antibodies available on the market limit flexibility.The availability of different conjugated secondary antibodies greatly increases flexibility.
SensitivityThe signal obtained in the direct method may be weaker than the indirect method, because the direct method does not use a secondary antibody for signal amplification.Multiple secondary antibodies combined with primary antibodies can amplify the signal.
Species cross-reactivityIn the direct method, species cross-reactivity is minimized because fluorescein is already coupled to the primary antibody.The secondary antibody may cross-react with organisms that are not the target. The use of pre-adsorbed secondary antibodies can prevent cross-reactions.
BackgroundUsing direct-labeled primary antibodies can reduce non-specific binding.In the indirect method, samples containing endogenous immunoglobulins may show high background.
▲ The direct labeling method uses only one antibody, and the indirect labeling method uses two antibodies

If you have a direct-labeled primary antibody (fluorescein-labeled antibody) against the antigen to be tested, and the abundance of your antigen to be tested is also relatively high, it is not impossible to do the direct method. However, if you do not meet the above two conditions, it is recommended that you do the indirect method.

For example, cytoskeleton protein can be detected by direct immunofluorescence method; if the protein expression is relatively low, direct method detection is more difficult, and a fluorescently labeled secondary antibody needs to be used for signal amplification for detection.

Related Articles:

Fluorescent Antibody Technique (Direct, Indirect)

ELISA Protocol-Elisa Experiment Standard Operating Method

Disadvantages of Indirect ELISA

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