Antibodies can be remarkably specific for antigens, distinguishing between small differences in chemical structure. Classic experiments performed by Karl Landsteiner in the late 1920s and early 1930s demonstrated that antibodies made in response to an aminobenzene hapten

FIGURE 5-14 Antigen-antibody complexes.

The sizes of antigen-antibody (immune) complexes are a function of the relative concentrations of antigen and antibody. Large complexes are formed at concentrations of multivalent antigens and antibodies that are termed the zone of equivalence; the complexes are smaller in relative antigen or antibody excess.

Zone of antibody excess (small complexes)

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