Serology is the scientific study of serum and other bodily fluids. In practice, the term usually refers to the diagnostic identification of antibodies in the serum. Such antibodies are typically formed in response to an infection (against a given microorganism), against other foreign proteins (in response, for example, to a mismatched blood transfusion), or to one's own proteins (in instances of autoimmune disease).
Serological tests may be performed for diagnostic purposes when an infection is suspected, in rheumatic illnesses, and in many other situations, such as checking an individual's blood type. Serology blood tests help to diagnose patients with certain immune deficiencies associated with the lack of antibodies, such as X-linked agammaglobulinemia. In such cases, tests for antibodies will be consistently negative.
Serological methods are diagnostic methods that are used to identify antibodies and antigens in patients sample which is serum and plasma. There are some classical serological methods like Agglutination and Precipitation that are used to identify infectious diseases and human blood grouping typing.
There are several serology techniques that can be used depending on the antibodies being studied. These include: ELISA, agglutination, precipitation, complement-fixation, and fluorescent antibodies and more recently chemiluminescence.
Serological tests may also be used in forensic serology, specifically for a piece of evidence (e.g., linking a rapist to a semen sample).
Serological surveys are often used by epidemiologists to determine the prevalence of a disease in a population. Such surveys are sometimes performed by random, anonymous sampling from samples taken for other medical tests or to assess the prevalence of antibodies of a specific organism or protective titre of antibodies in a population. Serological surveys are usually used to quantify the proportion of people or animals in a population positive for a specific antibody or the titre or concentrations of an antibody. These surveys are potentially the most direct and informative technique available to infer the dynamics of a population's susceptibility and level of immunity.
Notes and references
- Ryan KJ, Ray CG, eds. (2004). Sherris Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). McGraw Hill. pp. 247–9. ISBN 978-0-8385-8529-0.
- Washington JA (1996). "Principles of Diagnosis". In Baron S, et al. (eds.). Principles of Diagnosis: Serodiagnosis. in: Baron's Medical Microbiology (4th ed.). Univ of Texas Medical Branch. ISBN 978-0-9631172-1-2.
- "Serological methods I". 2013-05-23. Retrieved 22 January 2018.
- Use of serological surveys to generate key insights into the changing global landscape of infectious disease C Jessica E Metcalf, Jeremy Farrar, Felicity T Cutts, Nicole E Basta, Andrea L Graham, Justin Lessler, Neil M Ferguson, Donald S Burke, Bryan T Grenfell
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