Bullous pemphigoid (BP) is an autoimmune blistering skin disease. Auto-antibodies to BP180 and BP230 can be detected by indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) on different substrates (oesophagus, salt-split-skin, BP180-antigen dots, BP230-transfected cells) and ELISA. Here, we compared test characteristics of these test systems. We analyzed sera from BP patients (n=60) in whom the clinical diagnosis had been confirmed histopathologically. The control cohort comprised sera from patients with other autoimmune-associated (n=22) or inflammatory (n=35) skin diseases. All samples were tested by IIF (EUROIMMUN™ Dermatology Mosaic) and ELISA (EUROIMMUN and MBL). Anti-BP180 is best detected with BP180-antigen dots by IIF (sensitivity: 88%; specificity: 97%). As compared to IIF, the differences with both BP180 ELISA techniques are small though. Likelihood ratios (LRs) for positive and negative test results are >10 and between 0.1 and 0.2, respectively, for all test systems. Detection of anti-BP230 is highly variable (sensitivity range 38-60%; specificity range 83-98%). Only the IIF test reveals a LR for positive test results >10. Since the LRs for a negative test are all ~0.5, negative test results for anti-BP230 antibodies do not help to exclude BP. In conclusion, the multi-parameter IIF test reveals a good diagnostic performance in BP. Since this test simultaneously allows for the detection of anti-Dsg1 and anti-Dsg3 antibodies, involved in pemphigus foliaceus and vulgaris, a single test-incubation may be sufficient to differentiate between the most frequent autoimmune blistering diseases.
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