High sensitive detection of double-stranded DNA autoantibodies by a modified Crithidia luciliae immunofluorescence test

Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2009 Sep:1173:180-5. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2009.04801.x.


Anti-double-stranded (ds)DNA antibodies are serological markers of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Of all anti-dsDNA antibody detection methods, the Crithidia luciliae immunofluorescence test (CLIFT) is thought to have the highest specificity for SLE. However, the clinical application is hampered by the low diagnostic sensitivity. A CLIFT with modified assay buffer (mCLIFT) was developed and compared with conventional CLIFT, using sera from 110 patients with SLE, 89 anti-dsDNA ELISA-positive patients with other diseases (non-SLE group A), 157 non-SLE patients with undetectable anti-dsDNA antibodies by ELISA (non-SLE group B), 77 disease controls (non-SLE group C), and 50 healthy blood donors. Out of the 110 anti-dsDNA antibody ELISA-positive SLE patients, 84 (76.4%) demonstrated a positive kinetoplast staining, using the mCLIFT, compared to only 42.3%, using the conventional CLIFT. The diagnostic specificity of mCLIFT was 100% with healthy blood donors and 98.1% with the non-SLE group C (anti-nuclear antibodies negative; no signs or symptoms of an autoimmune disease) included. In the non-SLE groups A and B with various other autoimmune diseases or symptoms of a possible autoimmune disease, positive mCLIFT results were obtained in 33.7% and 3.2%, respectively. In conclusion, by modification of the assay buffer, a significant increase in sensitivity of the CLIFT could be observed while retaining the high specificity for SLE. Further investigation is required to check whether the CLIFT-positive non-SLE patients develop SLE and whether anti-dsDNA antibodies detected by the mCLIFT represent a pathogenetic and diagnostic subgroup of autoantibodies that may improve the early diagnosis of SLE or SLE-overlap syndromes.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood*
  • Antigens, Protozoan / immunology
  • Crithidia / immunology*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / diagnosis*
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Antigens, Protozoan