Automated indirect immunofluorescence evaluation of antinuclear autoantibodies on HEp-2 cells

Clin Dev Immunol. 2012:2012:651058. doi: 10.1155/2012/651058. Epub 2012 Nov 11.


Indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) on human epithelial (HEp-2) cells is considered as the gold standard screening method for the detection of antinuclear autoantibodies (ANA). However, in terms of automation and standardization, it has not been able to keep pace with most other analytical techniques used in diagnostic laboratories. Although there are already some automation solutions for IIF incubation in the market, the automation of result evaluation is still in its infancy. Therefore, the EUROPattern Suite has been developed as a comprehensive automated processing and interpretation system for standardized and efficient ANA detection by HEp-2 cell-based IIF. In this study, the automated pattern recognition was compared to conventional visual interpretation in a total of 351 sera. In the discrimination of positive from negative samples, concordant results between visual and automated evaluation were obtained for 349 sera (99.4%, kappa = 0.984). The system missed out none of the 272 antibody-positive samples and identified 77 out of 79 visually negative samples (analytical sensitivity/specificity: 100%/97.5%). Moreover, 94.0% of all main antibody patterns were recognized correctly by the software. Owing to its performance characteristics, EUROPattern enables fast, objective, and economic IIF ANA analysis and has the potential to reduce intra- and interlaboratory variability.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / chemistry*
  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / immunology*
  • Automation, Laboratory / methods
  • Automation, Laboratory / standards
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Epithelial Cells / chemistry*
  • Epithelial Cells / immunology*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect / methods*
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique, Indirect / standards
  • Humans
  • Reference Standards
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear