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Comparison and validation of ELISA assays for plasma insulin-like growth factor-1 in the horse

Courtnay L. Baskerville
Nicholas J. Bamford
Patricia A. Harris
Simon R. Bailey


Insulin-like growth factor-1 (IGF-1) plays several important physiological roles, and IGF-related pathways have been implicated in developmental osteochondral disease and endocrinopathic laminitis. This factor is also a downstream marker of growth  hormone activity and its peptide mimetics. Unfortunately, previously used assays for measuring equine IGF-1 (radioimmunoassays and ELISAs) are no longer  commercially available, and many of the kits on the market give poor results when  used on horse samples. The aim of the present study was to compare three different ELISA assays (two human and one horse-specific). Plasma samples from six  Standardbreds, six ponies and six Andalusians were used. The human IGF-1 ELISA kit from Immunodiagnostic Systems (IDS) proved to be the most accurate and precise of the three kits; the other two assays gave apparently much lower  concentrations, with poor recovery of spiked recombinant human IGF-1 and unacceptably poor intra-assay coefficients of variation (CV). The IDS assay gave an intra-assay CV of 3.59 % and inter-assay CV of 7.31%. Mean percentage  recovery of spiked IGF-1 was 88.82%, and linearity and dilutional parallelism were satisfied. The IGF-1 plasma concentrations were 123.21 ±8.24 ng/mL for  Standardbreds, 124.95 ±3.69 ng/mL for Andalusians and 174.26 ±1.94 ng/mL for ponies. Therefore of the three assays assessed, the IGF-1 ELISA manufactured by IDS was the most suitable for use with equine plasma samples and may have many useful applications in several different research areas. However, caution should be used when comparing equine studies where different analytical techniques and assays may have been used to measure this growth factor.

Keywords: Equine, Insulin-like growth factor, Ponies.