Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and indirect immunofluorescence testing in a bullous pemphigoid and pemphigoid gestationis


María A. Barnadas Department of Dermatology Hospital Sta. Creu i St. Pau, C/St. Antoni Mª Claret 167, 08025 Barcelona Spain E-mail: mbarnadas@hsp.santpau.es


Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) is an excellent tool for detection of circulating antibodies against the NC16A portion of BP180 antigen. We compared the sensitivity and specificity of a commercially available BP180-NC16a domain ELISA with that of an indirect immunofluorescence (IIF) testing in the evaluation of bullous pemphigoid (BP) and pemphigoid gestationis (PG), and analyzed the relationship between ELISA results and the presence of IgG deposition, in an epidermal or combined pattern, on direct immunofluorescence (DIF) testing of salt-split skin. ELISA was performed on serum from 28 patients (24 BP, 4 PG) and 50 controls. IIF testing was performed on serum from 27 patients and 98 controls. For the group of 28 patients with BP or PG, ELISA had a sensitivity of 93% and specificity of 96% (P < 0.001), while sensitivity was 74% and specificity 96% (P < 0.001) for IIF testing. In these patients, ELISA has a higher sensitivity than IIF testing, but similar specificity. Evaluation of controls who had IgG deposition on the dermal side of salt-split skin on DIF testing showed specificity for the ELISA of 100% (all four cases negative) and 80% for IIF testing (one of five positive). Positive ELISA correlated with a diagnosis of BP or PG only in patients who had IgG at the basement membrane zone (BMZ) by DIF testing. Overall, ELISA appears to have greater sensitivity and specificity for BP or PG than does IIF testing.