Screening for anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA): Is indirect immunofluorescence the method of choice?

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Detection of ANCA has become an important tool for the diagnosis and monitoring of disease activity in Wegener's granulomatosis (WG). Unfortunately, a group of sera positive by the standard method for ANCA detection, indirect immunofluorescence (IIF), are negative when more specific tests with purified proteins are used. In order to examine this discrepancy we examined groups of sera selected for being (i) C-ANCA-positive by IIF; (ii) positive in proteinase 3 (PR3)-ANCA ELISA; and (iii) from 24 patients with WG. The following assays were used: IIF, PR3-ANCA ELISA and capture PR3-ANCA ELISA using MoAbs against PR3. Furthermore, since granule enzymes are released during coagulation, we also measured ANCA in complex with PR3. To test if granule enzyme release had any influence on ANCA detection, both serum and EDTA-plasma were collected from a patient with active WG. No difference, however, was found. In the IIF-positive group (n = 60) 68% of the sera were positive in PR3-ANCA ELISA, 86% in capture PR3-ANCA-ELISA and 80% were positive for the PR3/IgG-ANCA complex. In the PR3-ANCA ELISA group (n = 105) 88% of the sera were positive by IIF, 98% in capture PR3-ANCA ELISA and 53% in the PR3/IgG-ANCA assay. To evaluate the tests clinically sera from 24 patients with WG were examined. In the remission group (n = 10) two patients were positive by IIF, four in the PR3-ANCA ELISA, and five in the capture PR3-ANCA ELISA. Fourteen had active disease, and in this group 11/14 were positive by IIF, 10/14 in PR3-ANCA ELISA and 12/14 by capture-ELISA. The correlation between IIF and capture PR3-ANCA ELISA titre (r = 0.72, P = 0.0095) was better than between PR3-ANCA ELISA and IIF (r = 0.56, P = 0.043). It is concluded that the capture PR3-ANCA ELISA is more sensitive than PR3-ANCA ELISA, and that the capture ELISA can be used for screening of PR3-ANCA.


  • B. Baslund
  • M. Segelmark
  • A. Wiik
  • W. Szpirt
  • J. Petersen
  • J. Wieslander
External organisations
  • Danish Serum Institute, Copenhagen
  • Skåne University Hospital
  • Copenhagen University Hospital
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Urology and Nephrology


  • anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies, autoantibody, ELISA, indirect immunofluorescence, Wegener's granulomatosis
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)486-492
JournalClinical and Experimental Immunology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1995 Jan 1
Publication categoryResearch