Biotin is an essential vitamin that binds streptavidin or avidin with high affinity and specificity. As biotin is a small molecule that can be linked to proteins without affecting their biological activity, biotinylation is applied widely in biochemical assays. In our laboratory, IgM enzyme immuno assays (EIAs) of μ-capture format have been set up against many viruses, using as antigen biotinylated virus like particles (VLPs) detected by horseradish peroxidase-conjugated streptavidin. We recently encountered one serum sample reacting with the biotinylated VLP but not with the unbiotinylated one, suggesting in human sera the occurrence of biotin-reactive antibodies. In the present study, we search the general population (612 serum samples from adults and 678 from children) for IgM antibodies reactive with biotin and develop an indirect EIA for quantification of their levels and assessment of their seroprevalence. These IgM antibodies were present in 3% adults regardless of age, but were rarely found in children. The adverse effects of the biotin IgM on biotinylation-based immunoassays were assessed, including four inhouse and one commercial virus IgM EIAs, showing that biotin IgM do cause false positivities. The biotin can not bind IgM and streptavidin or avidin simultaneously, suggesting that these biotin-interactive compounds compete for the common binding site. In competitive inhibition assays, the affinities of biotin IgM antibodies ranged from 2.1×10-3 to 1.7×10-4mol/L. This is the first report on biotin antibodies found in humans, providing new information on biotinylation-based immunoassays as well as new insights into the biomedical effects of vitamins.
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