The problems associated with heterophile antibodies have been recognized for a number of decades. Estimates of the prevalence of heterophile antibodies vary considerably but as far as the general population is concerned, it is considered to be at least 10% (1).
Heterophile antibodies arise when people are exposed to different animals or products derived from animals. These antibodies are typically human anti-mouse (HAMA), anti-rabbit, anti-goat, anti-sheep, anti-cow, anti-pig, anti-rat or anti-horse. As far as immunodiagnostics is concerned, the problem is most commonly associated with HAMA due to the fact that most diagnostics assays use mouse derived antibodies.