Analytical and Bioanalytical Chemistry

, Volume 402, Issue 3, pp 1229–1239 | Cite as

Attribution of the discrepancy between ELISA and LC-MS/MS assay results of a PEGylated scaffold protein in post-dose monkey plasma samples due to the presence of anti-drug antibodies

  • Shujie J. Wang
  • Steven T. Wu
  • Jochem Gokemeijer
  • Aberra Fura
  • Murli Krishna
  • Paul Morin
  • Guodong Chen
  • Karen Price
  • David Wang-Iverson
  • Timothy Olah
  • Russell Weiner
  • Adrienne Tymiak
  • Mohammed Jemal
Original Paper


High-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) methods were developed for the quantification of a PEGylated scaffold protein drug in monkey plasma samples. The LC-MS/MS method was based on the extraction of the therapeutic protein with a water-miscible organic solvent and the subsequent trypsin digestion of the extract followed by the detection of a surrogate peptide. The assay was linear over a range of 10–3,000 ng/mL. The ELISA method utilized a therapeutic target-binding format in which the recombinant target antigen was used to capture the drug in the sample, followed by detection with an anti-PEG monoclonal antibody. The assay range was 30–2,000 ng/mL. A correlation study between the two methods was performed by measuring the drug concentrations in plasma samples from a single-dose pharmacokinetic (PK) study in cynomolgus monkeys following a 5-mg/kg subcutaneous administration (n = 4). In the early time points of the PK profile, the drug concentrations obtained by the LC-MS/MS method agreed very well with those obtained by the ELISA method. However, at later time points, the drug concentrations measured by the LC-MS/MS method were consistently higher than those measured by the ELISA method. The PK parameters calculated based on the concentration data showed that the two methods gave equivalent peak exposure (Cmax) at 24–48 h. However, the LC-MS/MS results exhibited about 1.53-fold higher total exposure (AUCtot) than the ELISA results. The discrepancy between the LC-MS/MS and ELISA results was investigated by conducting immunogenicity testing, anti-drug antibody (ADA) epitope mapping, and Western blot analysis of the drug concentrations coupled with Protein G separation. The results demonstrated the presence of ADA specific to the engineered antigen-binding region of the scaffold protein drug that interfered with the ability of the drug to bind to the target antigen used in the ELISA method. In the presence of the ADAs, the ELISA method measured only the active circulating drug (target-binding), while the LC-MS/MS method measured the total circulating drug. The work presented here indicates that the bioanalysis of protein drugs may be complicated owing to the presence of drug-binding endogenous components or ADAs in the post-dose (incurred) samples. The clear understanding of the behavior of different bioanalytical techniques vis-à-vis the potentially interfering components found in incurred samples is critical in selecting bioanalytical strategies for measuring protein drugs.


ELISA LC-MS/MS Free and total drug Immunogenicity Pharmacokinetics Therapeutic proteins 



Anti-drug antibody


Bovine serum albumin


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay


Hydrochloric acid


Horseradish peroxidase


Immunoglobulin G


Internal standard


Ligand binding assay


High-performance liquid chromatography–tandem mass spectrometry


Low limit of quantification


Monoclonal antibody


Optical density


Phosphate-buffered saline


Phosphate-buffered saline containing 0.05% Tween-20




Polyethylene glycol




Quality control


Sodium dodecyl sulfate


Sodium dodecyl sulfate–polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis


Selective reaction monitoring




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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shujie J. Wang
    • 1
  • Steven T. Wu
    • 2
  • Jochem Gokemeijer
    • 3
  • Aberra Fura
    • 2
  • Murli Krishna
    • 2
  • Paul Morin
    • 2
  • Guodong Chen
    • 2
  • Karen Price
    • 4
  • David Wang-Iverson
    • 5
  • Timothy Olah
    • 2
  • Russell Weiner
    • 6
  • Adrienne Tymiak
    • 2
  • Mohammed Jemal
    • 2
  1. 1.Pfizer Inc.GrotonUSA
  2. 2.Bristol-Myers SquibbPrincetonUSA
  3. 3.Bristol-Myers SquibbWalthamUSA
  4. 4.Bristol-Myers SquibbNew BrunswickUSA
  5. 5.StocktonUSA
  6. 6.Merck Research LaboratoriesRahwayUSA

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