Definition of hapten in English:



  • A small molecule which, when combined with a larger carrier such as a protein, can elicit the production of antibodies which bind specifically to it (in the free or combined state).

    • ‘Supporting this is the discovery by Vojdani et al., who reported that some individuals develop allergic antibodies to haptens formed in response to MTBE binding to albumin.’
    • ‘The bound microparticle complexes are then incubated with antidetection hapten alkaline phosphatase conjugate, which binds to the detection haptens.’
    • ‘The Aberdeen company uses antibodies to detect haptens - tiny molecules that can signal the presence of poisonous or disease-causing substances.’
    • ‘Perhaps the binding of TABMs to chemical haptens produces a local increase in TGF- [Beta] at sites of chemical exposure, particularly the upper and lower respiratory tract, with neuropeptide release.’
    • ‘It is likely that low-molecular-weight agents act as haptens, combining with human proteins in the respiratory tract to become complete immunogens.’


Early 20th century: from Greek haptein ‘fasten’.