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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter July 18, 2019

Only monospecific anti-DFS70 antibodies aid in the exclusion of antinuclear antibody associated rheumatic diseases: an Italian experience

  • Maria Infantino EMAIL logo , Francesca Pregnolato , Chelsea Bentow , Michael Mahler , Maurizio Benucci , Francesca Li Gobbi , Arianna Damiani , Valentina Grossi , Franco Franceschini , Caterina Bodio , Maria Orietta Borghi and Mariangela Manfredi



The dense fine speckled (DFS) is one of the most common patterns that can be observed as a result of the anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) test on HEp-2 cells and is mostly caused by antibodies to DFS70 as the main antigenic target. As was recently demonstrated, isolated anti-DFS70 positivity can be used as an aid in the exclusion of ANA associated rheumatic diseases (AARD) due to the opportunity to better interpret unexplained positive IIF ANA results.


Our study included 333 subjects with AARD, 51 undifferentiated connective tissue disease (UCTD) patients, 235 disease controls and 149 healthy blood donors from an Italian cohort. All samples were tested for anti-DFS70 and anti-ENA antibodies using QUANTA Flash assays (Inova Diagnostics, San Diego, CA, USA).


No differences in the prevalence of anti-DFS70 antibodies were seen among AARD, non-AARD and UCTD (2.1% [7/333] vs. 2.3% [9/384] vs. 5.9% [3/51], respectively; p-value = 0.188). AARD patients positive for anti-DFS70 antibodies showed in all cases an accompanying anti-ENA specificity. In contrast, monospecific anti-DFS70 antibodies showed a significantly different distribution with a clear trend across the main groups (AARD vs. non-AARD vs. UCTD: 0% [0/7] vs. 22% [2/9] vs. 100% [3/3], p = 0.007). Anti-DFS70 antibody levels among AARD, non-AARD and UCTD patients were not significantly different (p = 0.094). Within the anti-DFS70 antibody positive cases, AARD cohort showed a higher variability (median [min–max]: 3.2 [3.2–450.8] CU) compared to non-AARD (median [min–max]: 3.2 [3.2–75.7] CU) and UCTD patients (median [min–max]: 3.2 [3.2–59.0] CU).


Our preliminary data showed a similar frequency of anti-DFS70 antibodies in AARD, UCTD and non-AARD cohorts. Monospecificity of anti-DFS70 antibodies but not their mere presence is the key element in the diagnostic algorithm. Mono-specific anti-DFS70 antibodies might be a helpful biomarker to discriminate individuals with AARD from non-AARD presenting with a positive ANA.

Corresponding author: Dr. Maria Infantino, SOS Laboratorio Immunologia e Allegologia Ospedale S. Giovanni di Dio Firenze, Florence, Italy, Phone: +390556932502, Fax: +390556932289

aMaria Infantino and Francesca Pregnolato share 1st authorship.

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2019-04-30
Accepted: 2019-06-18
Published Online: 2019-07-18
Published in Print: 2019-10-25

©2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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