Challenges of automated screening and differentiation of non-organ specific autoantibodies on HEp-2 cells

Autoimmun Rev. 2009 Sep;9(1):17-22. doi: 10.1016/j.autrev.2009.02.033. Epub 2009 Feb 24.


Analysis of autoantibodies (AAB) by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) remains the hallmark of diagnosing autoimmune diseases despite the introduction of multiplex techniques. Non-organ specific AAB are screened in routine diagnostics by IIF on HEp-2 cells. However, IIF results vary due to objective (e.g., cell fixation) and subjective factors (e.g., expert knowledge). Therefore, inter- and intralaboratory variance is relatively high. Standardisation of AAB testing by IIF remains a critical issue in and between routine laboratories and may be improved by automated interpretation systems. An overview of existing interpretation techniques will be given taking into account own data of the first fully automated reading system AKLIDES. The novel system provides fully automated reading of IIF images and software algorithms for the mathematical description of IIF AAB patterns. It can be used for screening and preclassification of non-organ specific AAB in routine diagnostics regarding systemic autoimmune and autoimmune liver diseases. Furthermore, this system paves the way for economic data processing of cell-based IIF assays and can contribute to the reduction of interlaboratory variance of AAB testing. More sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms and novel calibration systems will improve standardised quantifications of IIF image interpretation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoantibodies / blood*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / blood
  • Autoimmune Diseases / diagnosis*
  • Autoimmune Diseases / epidemiology
  • Autoimmune Diseases / immunology
  • Cell Line
  • Electronic Data Processing
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect / standards
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Observer Variation


  • Autoantibodies