Drug withdrawal is the ultimate goal in the management of patients with pemphigus. Direct immunofluorescence (DIF) has long been considered the gold-standard test to predict immunological remission in pemphigus vulgaris (PV); however, there have been no comparisons between DIF and antidesmoglein (anti-Dsg) ELISA.


To compare anti-Dsg ELISA with DIF in patients with PV for evaluation of immunological remission.


The study enrolled 46 patients with PV who had absence of any lesion, and had a daily prednisolone dosage of ≤ 10 mg without adjuvant drug treatment in the preceding 6 months. Biopsy specimens were taken from patients and processed for DIF. Intercellular deposition of IgG and/or C3 was considered positive. Serum samples were also collected for anti-Dsg1 and anti-Dsg3 ELISA, and an ELISA index value of > 20.0 was considered positive.


DIF and anti-Dsg ELISA were positive for 11 (23.9%) and 18 patients (39.1%), respectively. Anti-Dsg ELISA had a sensitivity of 100%, a specificity of 80%, a positive predictive value of 61.1% and a negative predictive value of 100%.


The high sensitivity of anti-Dsg ELISA proves that this simple serological test is a good substitute for DIF for evaluation of immunological remission in PV. As none of the DIF-positive patients was anti-Dsg-negative, it is possible that during the course of immunological remission, results for DIF may become negative before the results for Dsg ELISA do so.