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Clin Vaccine Immunol. 2017 Dec 5;24(12). pii: e00270-17. doi: 10.1128/CVI.00270-17. Print 2017 Dec.

Recent Approaches To Optimize Laboratory Assessment of Antinuclear Antibodies.

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Department of Pathology, University of Utah School of Medicine and ARUP Laboratories, Salt Lake City, Utah, USA


The presence of antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) is a hallmark of a number of systemic autoimmune rheumatic diseases, and testing is usually performed as part of the initial diagnostic workup when suspicion of an underlying autoimmune disorder is high. The indirect immunofluorescence antibody (IFA) technique is the preferred method for detecting ANAs, as it demonstrates binding to specific intracellular structures within the cells, resulting in a number of staining patterns that are usually categorized based on the cellular components recognized and the degree of binding, as reflected by the fluorescence intensity or titer. As a screening tool, the ANA patterns can guide confirmatory testing useful in elucidating a specific clinical diagnosis or prognosis. However, routine use of ANA IFA testing as a global screening test is hampered by its labor-intensiveness, subjectivity, and limited diagnostic specificity, among other factors. This review focuses on current efforts to standardize the nomenclature of ANA patterns and on alternative methods for ANA determination, as well as on recent advances in image-based computer algorithms to automate IFA testing in clinical laboratories.


antinuclear antibodies; autoimmunity; diagnosis; methodologies

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