Precipitation vs. Agglutination Reactions

Difference Between Precipitation and Agglutination Reactions

Precipitation reactions and agglutination reactions are the two most popular serological reactions which are used in diagnosing the antigen and antibody reactions in our body. This diagnosis helps in correct diagnosis of the diseases and hence helps in taking the correct course of treatment. These reactions are different from each other and this article will inform you about the differences.

Antibodies tend to cross link the particles when they mix with their matching antigens on the surfaces like bacteria, erythrocytes or animal cells. When this cross linking happens you see clump formation and this is known as agglutination. This is quite similar to precipitation reactions but the difference appears on the basis of the pair of the antibodies and antigens and the size of the antigens. Antigens are soluble molecules in precipitation reactions while they are large and insoluble molecules in case of agglutination.

The formation of lot of soluble antibody and antigen molecules is required for the visibility of a precipitation reaction, it is lesser sensitive than agglutination reaction. A precipitation reaction can be converted into agglutination reaction by attaching soluble antigens to large latex beads or erythrocytes which are large carriers.

Agglutination reactions are used in typing blood cells for blood transfusion. They can also be used for identifying bacterial cultures and in detection of presence of a particular antibody in the body fluids of the patient who is being diagnosed. This means that if a person is to be tested for a bacterial infection then agglutination reaction can be used effectively.

Some of the major differences between Agglutination reaction and Precipitation reaction are:

  • The size of the antigen is different in these reactions.
  • Agglutination is a more sensitive reaction in comparison to precipitation.
  • Antigens are soluble molecules in precipitation reactions while they are large and insoluble molecules in case of agglutination.

 

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