Immunofluorescence assays (IFA) and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISA) in autoimmune disease diagnostics--technique, benefits, limitations and applications

Scand J Clin Lab Invest Suppl. 2001;235:68-76. doi: 10.1080/003655101753352077.


Autoimmune diseases are relatively frequent disease complexes, affecting approximately five to seven percent of the population. After cardio-vascular and malignant diseases they come third in mortality. As the clinical diagnosis of rheumatic autoimmune diseases is difficult, laboratory tests are helpful in differential diagnosis and for verification of the clinical diagnosis. The most commonly used assay is the determination of ANAs (anti nuclear antibodies) by indirect immunofluorescence (IFA). However, this method lacks reliable standardisation and is very dependable on the qualification of the observer. Enzyme Immunoassays (EIA) and Immunoblotting techniques, on the contrary, attain good standardisation and comparability. However, the latter methods are limited to the presentation of defined autoantibodies only. There is a need to select a suitable strategy for the use of laboratory parameters in order to support the clinical diagnosis more efficiently. A possible strategy is to replace IFA as a first line screening-step by second-generation ANA-EIA kits.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / analysis
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunoblotting / methods
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques / methods


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear