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Diagnostic value of classical and atypical antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (ANCA) immunofluorescence patterns.
  1. R C Wong,
  2. R A Silvestrini,
  3. J A Savige,
  4. D A Fulcher,
  5. E M Benson
  1. Immunopathology Department, ICPMR, Westmead Hospital, NSW, Australia. rcwwong@hotmail.com

    Abstract

    BACKGROUND: The "classical" antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody (C-ANCA) pattern seen on indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) is characterised by granular cytoplasmic staining showing central or interlobular accentuation, and is strongly associated with antiproteinase-3 antibodies (PR3-ANCA) and Wegener's granulomatosis. However, many laboratories report C-ANCA in the presence of any cytoplasmic IIF staining, regardless of pattern, which risks reducing the diagnostic value of this pattern. AIMS: To classify different cytoplasmic ANCA patterns and thus determine whether stringent application of the classical criteria for C-ANCA would produce better correlation between C-ANCA and (1) PR3-ANCA enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) results; (2) a diagnosis of systemic vasculitis (including Wegener's granulomatosis). METHODS: 72 sera with cytoplasmic IIF collected over a two year period were analysed by IIF and a commercial PR3-ANCA ELISA kit. RESULTS: Three IIF patterns were defined: "classical/true" C-ANCA as described above (n = 27 (37.5%)); "flat" ANCA with homogeneous cytoplasmic staining (n = 21 (29%)); and "atypical" ANCA which included all other cytoplasmic patterns (n = 24 (33.5%)). Twenty five of the 27 true C-ANCA sera (92.5%) contained PR3-ANCA (p < 0.0001), but none of the 21 with flat ANCA and only one of the 24 with atypical ANCA. From clinical data on 23 of the 27 true C-ANCA positive patients, 20 (87%) had evidence of Wegener's granulomatosis or systemic vasculitis (p < 0.0001 v the other two patterns). However, none of 19 sera with flat ANCA and clinical data had evidence of systemic vasculitis. CONCLUSIONS: Restricting the term "c-ANCA" to the "classical" description of central/interlobular accentuation on IIF, will improve its correlation with PR3-ANCA positivity and a diagnosis of systemic vasculitis.

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