Resources Blog Polyclonal vs. Monoclonal Antibodies: What's the Difference?

Polyclonal vs. Monoclonal Antibodies: What's the Difference?

Biointron 2024-01-20 Read time: 3 mins
Image credit: DOI: 10.4172/2161-0991.S4-001

When deciding on an antibody production strategy, researchers can choose between polyclonal or monoclonal antibodies. Both are used in a variety of research applications but have their own unique advantages and disadvantages.  

Polyclonal antibodies (pAbs)

pAbs are produced by different B lymphocytes and recognize different epitopes of a single antigen. They can be generated in large quantities and rapidly (within several months of initiating immunizations), and at a lower cost than monoclonal antibodies (mAbs). Because they are heterogenous, any structural changes on one epitope are unlikely to significantly effect binding, and pAbs are more stable over a broad pH and salt concentration. 

However, pAbs are at a disadvantage in avidity, since batch-to-batch variability will occur from production in different animals at different times. The quantity of pAbs obtained is also limited by the lifespan and size of the animal used. Furthermore, cross-reactivity may occur as pAbs recognize multiple epitopes. 

Monoclonal antibodies (mAbs)

mAbs are produced by identical B lymphocytes which are clones of a single parent cell. Due to their homogeneity, they have high specificity and affinity. They are particularly useful in analyzing changes in molecular conformation, protein-protein interactions, phosphorylation states, and identifying single members of protein families. In addition, a key advantage mAbs have is their ability to be produced as a constant and renewable resource once the desired hybridoma has been generated. 

On the other hand, mAb production can take up to a year or longer to develop the hybridized clone, so costs and times are higher than pAbs. Additionally, any changes in epitope structure or mAb labelling will negatively affect mAb binding ability.1

Here at Biointron, we are dedicated to accelerating antibody discovery and production. Our team of experts can provide customized solutions that meet your specific research needs. Contact us to learn more about our services and how we can help accelerate your research and drug development projects. 


  1. Lipman, N. S., Jackson, L. R., & Trudel, L. J. (2005). Monoclonal Versus Polyclonal Antibodies: Distinguishing Characteristics, Applications, and Information Resources. ILAR Journal, 46(3), 258-268. 

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