Screening for IgG antinuclear autoantibodies by HEp-2 indirect fluorescent antibody assays and the need for standardization

Am J Clin Pathol. 2012 May;137(5):825-30. doi: 10.1309/AJCPICNFG7UCES1S.


We evaluated 5 commercially available HEp-2 antinuclear antibody (ANA) indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) assays using patient serum samples from 45 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, 50 with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), 35 with scleroderma, 20 with Sjögren syndrome, 10 with polymyositis, and 100 healthy control subjects. In addition, 12 defined serum samples from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and 100 patient serum samples sent to ARUP Laboratories (Salt Lake City, UT) for ANA IFA testing were also examined (n = 372). Standardization among the HEp-2 IFA assays occurred when they exhibited the same titer ± 1 doubling dilution. Agreement of the 5 assays was 78%. Within the specific groups of serum samples, agreement ranged from 44% in scleroderma serum samples to 93% in healthy control subjects, with 72% agreement in the SLE group. Variations in slide and substrate quality were also noted (ie, clarity, consistency of fluorescence, cell size, number and quality of mitotic cells). Along with subjectivity of interpretation, HEp-2 IFA assays are also vulnerable to standardization issues similar to other methods for ANA screening.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology*
  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / immunology
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect / standards*
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G / immunology*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Immunoglobulin G