Counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIE): Principle, Procedure, Uses

Last updated on June 23rd, 2021

Counterimmunoelectrophoresis (CIE) is a modification of the Ouchterlony method that speeds up the migration of an antigen and antibody by applying an electrical current.

Most bacterial antigens are negatively charged in a slightly alkaline environment, whereas antibodies are neutral. When an electric field is applied in an electrophoresis apparatus filled with buffer (pH 8.4) and containing known antibodies and unknown antigens in the agarose well, the antibodies will migrate towards the negative end (cathode) whereas antigens will migrate towards the positive end (anode). 

As the antibody and antigen move towards each other in an electric field, they will soon meet in optimal proportion (zone of equivalence is formed) at some points between the well and visible precipitation occurs.


Salient features

  1. Modification of the Ouchterlony method.
  2. Unknown bacterial antigen and a known specific antibody move towards each other in an electrical field.
  3. Most bacterial antigens are negatively charged  (exceptions Streptococcus pneumoniae serotypes 7 and 14) in a slightly alkaline environment.
  4. When Ag and Ab meet in optimal proportions, a line of precipitation appears within the agar matrix.
  5. The entire procedure takes about one hour.
  6. Any antigen for which antisera is available can be tested by CIE
  7. Sensitivity less than that of particle agglutination (0.01-0.05 mg/ml) of antigen.

Uses of Counterimmunoelectrophoresis

Counterimmunoelectrophoresis is used to detect presence of capsular antigens in CSF of

Demerits of the test:

  1. CIE is more expensive than agglutination-based tests.
    • Initial capital outlay for the apparatus
    • Need of large quantity of Ag and Ab
About Acharya Tankeshwar 474 Articles
Hello, thank you for visiting my blog. I am Tankeshwar Acharya. Blogging is my passion. I am working as an Asst. Professor and Microbiologist at Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Patan Academy of Health Sciences, Nepal. If you want me to write about any posts that you found confusing/difficult, please mention in the comments below.


  1. I am a PhD Student of Medical Microbiology in Nnamdi Azikiwe University. Awka, Anambra State, Nigeria.
    Am appreciative of this your post on electrophoresis. I believe I will still enjoy further interactions with you. Thanks

  2. I am a Bachelor student of Medical Degree in The Quest International University, Perak, Malaysia.
    I am much appreciative and thankful of your article as your article has helped me in microbology.

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