Novel method for quantitative ANA measurement using near-infrared imaging.
ABSTRACT Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) have been detected in patients with systemic rheumatic diseases and are used in the screening and/or diagnosis of autoimmunity in patients as well as mouse models of systemic autoimmunity. Indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) on HEp-2 cells is the gold standard for ANA screening. However, its usefulness is limited in diagnosis, prognosis and monitoring of disease activity due to the lack of standardization in performing the technique, subjectivity in interpreting the results and the fact that it is only semi-quantitative. Various immunological techniques have been developed in an attempt to improve upon the method to quantify ANA, including enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs), line immunoassays (LIAs), multiplexed bead immunoassays and IIF on substrates other than HEp-2 cells. Yet IIF on HEp-2 cells remains the most common screening method for ANA. In this study, we describe a simple quantitative method to detect ANA which combines IIF on HEp-2 coated slides with analysis using a near-infrared imaging (NII) system. Using NII to determine ANA titer, 86.5% (32 of 37) of the titers for human patient samples were within 2 dilutions of those determined by IIF, which is the acceptable range for proficiency testing. Combining an initial screening for nuclear staining using microscopy with titration by NII resulted in 97.3% (36 of 37) of the titers detected to be within two dilutions of those determined by IIF. The NII method for quantitative ANA measurements using serum from both patients and mice with autoimmunity provides a fast, relatively simple, objective, sensitive and reproducible assay, which could easily be standardized for comparison between laboratories.