HomeBiologyHow To Make ECL Reagent: 4 Elements, Higher Blots

How To Make ECL Reagent: 4 Elements, Higher Blots

What’s extra disappointing than a failed Western blot?

A number of days of labor and energy—gone.

After the switch step, the second greatest explanation for failed Western blots is the ECL reagent.

It’s costly, accommodates unstable and light-sensitive chemical substances, and the inventory answer will get abused by careless researchers.

So why not get monetary savings and make a personal stash of ECL?

Skeptical? Properly, don’t be. We’re going to learn to make ECL and clarify what its constituent chemical substances do. This may enhance your Western blot success fee and put you in management if issues go unsuitable.

What Is ECL?

ECL stands for Enhanced Chemiluminescence. As you most likely know, we use it to detect and quantify particular proteins on a membrane.

The chemical substances in ECL, when blended collectively, react to provide mild. This response is catalyzed by the enzyme horseradish peroxidase.

In a Western blot, the secondary antibody is conjugated to horseradish peroxidase. And since the secondary antibody binds particularly to a major antibody that binds particularly to a goal protein, the emission of sunshine from ECL is proportionate to the quantity of that concentrate on protein.

What Are the Elements of ECL?

Excluding water, ECL has 4 substances. These are:

  1. Luminol.
  2. p-Coumaric acid.
  3. Hydrogen peroxide.
  4. Tris-HCl at pH 8.5.

As talked about, these chemical substances react to provide mild. That’s the reason ECL is equipped as two separate options that we combine instantly earlier than the detection step in our Western blot.

We are going to make our personal ECL as two separate options, too.

And in case you might be questioning, we maintain the hydrogen peroxide separate from the luminol and p-coumaric acid, and each options are buffered with the tris-HCl.

How Does ECL Work?

Let’s clarify this by going by the 4 substances of ECL one after the other.

1. Luminol

Luminol produces the sunshine wanted to detect the goal protein. It emits mild when it reacts with an oxidizing agent. For the response to proceed, luminol must be deprotonated. That’s why the ECL reagent is ready at pH 8.5, which is barely primary.

The response of luminol with an oxidizing agent is sophisticated and accommodates many steps. Nevertheless, we should perceive that one product of the response is the dianion 3-aminophthalate.

The three-aminophthalate is produced with an unpaired electron in a non-ground-state orbital. There is no such thing as a residual electron spin, and that is referred to as the singlet excited state. The singlet excited state is unstable and decays to the bottom state by emitting photons.

The wavelength of the photons will depend on the solvent by which luminol is dissolved however is normally round 425 nm (blue mild).

And when a chemical reacts and produces mild, it’s mentioned to be chemiluminescent. Luminol is chemiluminescent.

2. Hydrogen Peroxide

Hydrogen peroxide is an oxidizing agent. It breaks down into water and oxygen, and plenty of species catalyze its decomposition. Examples embody silver(I), iron(II), titanium(III), and potassium iodide.

Within the ECL reagent, hydrogen peroxide produces the oxygen that reacts with (oxidizes) the luminol within the presence of horseradish peroxidase to provide the chemiluminescence described above.

3. Tris-HCl

Like all buffers, the tris-HCl supplies a secure chemical surroundings for the opposite parts of the ECL reagent.

The marginally primary pH of 8.5 deprotonates the luminol so the chemiluminescent response can proceed.

4. p-Coumaric Acid

The chemiluminescent conversion of luminol to 3-aminophthalate will not be supreme for immunohistochemistry. The quantity of sunshine emitted is comparatively low, and it’s all emitted fairly shortly, in one thing akin to a flash.

There are a number of chemical substances, largely phenol derivatives, that rectify this situation. p-Coumaric acid is certainly one of them.

It will increase the sunshine emitted by luminol alone by about three orders of magnitude. And remarkably, it massively extends the emission interval with out altering the wavelength of the emitted photons. [1] The truth is, p-coumaric acid loses solely about 70 of its emission depth after one hour.

How Luminol Emits Gentle through Chemiluminescence

Determine 1 depicts how luminol reacts with the opposite parts of ECL to emit mild through chemiluminescence.

How To Make ECL Reagent: 4 Ingredients, Better Blots
Determine 1. A commonly-proposed mechanism for the oxidation of luminol by hydrogen peroxide (Picture credit score: Thomas Warwick.)

How To Make ECL

So, on to what you got here right here for. First, examine if in case you have the substances in your lab. Then, put together the next options:

  • Luminol, 250 mM, in DMSO.
  • p-Coumaric acid, 90 mM, in DMSO.
  • 1M Tris-HCl pH at 8.5.

Hydrogen peroxide is equipped as a 30% answer in water, in order that one is made for you.

Use opaque receptacles or wrap clear ones in aluminum foil to make them opaque. Now, holding every little thing chilly and darkish, put together two options as per Desk 1 under.

Desk 1. Elements to arrange your individual ECL reagent.

There are just a few additional factors to notice.

Retailer each options in the dead of night at 4 °C. If saved accurately, they need to final for one or two months. When your Western blots begin trying faint or failing, it’s time to arrange the options once more.

How To Use Your ECL

So now you’ve discovered the best way to make your individual ECL, you may surprise: “do I exploit it any in a different way from common ECL?”


Use your home made ECL identically to the premade stuff. Mix equal volumes of every answer in a separate tube and blend completely. Then, cowl your blot with the answer and depart for one minute. Drain off the surplus fluid and visualize your blot. Easy.

Why Make Your Personal ECL?

Hopefully, the advantages of making ready your individual ECL are clear, however in abstract:

  1. It saves cash.
  2. It’s yours.
  3. You may take care of it.
  4. It gained’t unexpectedly run out.

Can I Use Different Enhancers in My ECL?

Sure, you may! There are options to p-coumaric acid. You may take a look at these mentioned in Thorpe et al. [1]

And extra lately, researchers have explored 4-iodophenylboronic acid instead enhancer. [2] The first good thing about it over p-coumaric acid is decrease background chemiluminescence. Have a mess around!

House Brew ECL in Abstract

You’ve discovered the best way to make ECL reagent and maybe discovered slightly about what the substances do.

This data will make you higher at Western blots and a greater scientist!

In the event you’ve acquired any hints to assist put together ECL within the lab, then tell us within the feedback part under. The identical goes for any useful Western blot knowledge.

For extra suggestions, tips, and hacks for getting your experiments carried out, take a look at the Bitesize Bio DIY within the Lab Hub.

Initially revealed June 2012. Revised and up to date November 2022.


  1. Thorpe GH, Kricka LJ, Moseley SB, and Whitehead TP (1985) Phenols as enhancers of the chemiluminescent horseradish peroxidase-luminol-hydrogen peroxide response: software in luminescence-monitored enzyme immunoassays. Clin Chem 31:1335–41
  2. Haan C and Behrmann I (2007) A value efficient non-commercial ECL-solution for Western blot detections yielding robust alerts and low background. J Immunol Strategies 318:11–9

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