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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Antibody Detection and Identification. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Immune Antibodies

Immune antibodies occur in the serum of individuals who become sensitized to foreign antigens through pregnancy or transfusion.

  • IgM predominates in the primary response; IgG in the secondary response.
  • Most react at 37°C and are considered clinically significant.
  • Examples include antibodies in the K, Rh, Duffy, and Kidd systems.

Immune antibodies can be classified as alloantibodies or autoantibodies.


  • Produced by exposure to foreign red cell antigens which are non-self antigens but are of the same species.
  • They react only with allogenic cells.
  • Exposure occurs through pregnancy or transfusion.
  • Examples include anti-K and anti-E.


  • Produced in an autoimmune process and directed against one's own red cell antigens.
  • React with patient's own cells and all cells tested.
  • Can possibly mask the presence of other significant antibodies.
  • It is very important to make sure that no underlying significant antibodies are present if an autoantibody is suspected.
  • A positive direct antiglobulin test (DAT) or auto control could indicate the presence of an autoantibody.
  • Examples include cold auto (P or I) or warm auto (Rh specificity).