Advantages of Chicken IgY
There are several distinct advantages for using chickens over rabbits to produce your polyclonal antibodies.
1. Higher titres against highly-conserved mammalian gene products. Since chickens are at least 100 million years removed from mammals, they tend to recognize any mammalian gene product as foreign, and mount vigorous immune responses.
2. Double immunostaining is easier to perform. Chicken IgY’s can be used together with mouse and rabbit antibodies, without the danger of cross-reactivity. Secondary antibodies against chicken IgY’s don’t cross react with mammalian IgG’s.
3. Animal-friendly — we purify the antibodies from eggs, not serum. With rabbits, in contrast, serum is obtained by restraining the animals, and performing ear bleeds or cardiac puncture. It is simply a more humane way to produce antibodies.
4. Cheaper than the custom rabbit antibodies. Our chicken antibody preparations are >90% IgY, and have shelf-lives of 5 years or more at 4˚C. In contrast, rabbit serum (which is what most companies provide) has only a limited shelf-life at 4˚C (measured in weeks-to-months), and some biological activity is lost when frozen. The cost of having rabbit antibodies purified to comparable purities (i.e., protein A-purified) is very costly.
5. Nearly unlimited quantities (again, because the antibodies come from eggs). We collect about 18 “immune eggs” from each hen, but only use 6 “immune eggs” to prepare your IgY preparation. We then store the remaining 12 “immune eggs” in the refrigerator, in case you need more antibody down the road. Moreover, we can continue to house the hens (for an additional charge), in case you want us to perform additional injections.
6. There is no “Fc domain” within the stem portion of a chicken IgY. This provides several advantages over rabbit IgG’s:
- It reduces the likelihood of having false positives in diagnostic applications, since it is the mammalian Fc domain that binds “rheumatoid factors” or other naturally occurring anti-Fc antibodies.
- Does not activate mammalian complement systems, allowing the use of chicken IgY’s in in vivo applications.
- Does not bind to mammalian Fc receptors, avoiding non-specific binding to cells expressing such receptors (e.g., macrophages and dendritic cells).
7. Chicken IgY’s contain a larger glycosylation index, allowing more labeling with HRP and other antibody tags. This produces higher signals.