Mediterr J Rheumatol 2018;29(1):17-20
New concepts in ANCA detection and disease classification in small vessel vasculitis: the role of ANCA antigen specificity
Authors Information

Department of Internal Medicine, Rheumatology and Immunology, Vasculitis-Center Tübingen-Kirchheim, Medius Klinik Kirchheim, University of Tübingen, Kirchheim-Teck, Germany

Anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) play a central role in the diagnosis and pathogenesis of patients with ANCA-associated vasculitis. ANCA-associated vasculitis is a rare disease characterized by necrotizing inflammation of small/medium-sized blood vessels with and without granuloma in different organs. The main syndromes are granulomatosis with polyangiitis, microscopic polyangiitis, and eosinophilic GPA. ANCA in these diseases are almost always directed against proteinase 3 and myeloperoxidase. Most laboratories worldwide use as standard the indirect immunofluorescence technique to screen for ANCA and then confirm positive IFT results with antigen specific immunoassyas for PR3- and MPO-ANCA. New guidelines for ANCA testing have been developed based on a recent European multicentre study, and according to the revised 2017 international consensus recommendations, testing for ANCA in small vessel vasculitis can be done by PR3- and MPO-ANCA immunoassays, without the categorical need for IIF. The new testing strategy for ANCA in vasculitis directly identifies the ANCA target antigen and has a particular value for the AAV sub-classification. Recent studies have shown that AAV can be classified based on ANCA serotype. ANCA presence and the antigen specificity also may have important value as a prognostic factor and may serve as a guide for immunosuppressive therapy. The clinical utility of ANCA depends on the type of assay performed and the appropiate ordering of testing the right clinical setting. Accurate identification of all patients with AAV and the avoidance of misdiagnosis can be achieved using a “gating policy” based on clinical information given to the laboratory at the time of request.