Anti-dsDNA antibodies in the classification criteria of systemic lupus erythematosus

Maria Infantino*, Eszter Nagy, Nicola Bizzaro, Katarzyna Fischer, Xavier Bossuyt, Jan Damoiseaux

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Anti-double stranded DNA (dsDNA) antibodies play an important role in the diagnosis, classification and management of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), an autoimmune disease characterized by heterogeneous clinical manifestations and a wide range of autoantibodies, which makes the diagnosis quite challenging. In the absence of diagnostic criteria, classification criteria have been used for many decades. The first classification criteria for SLE were formulated in 1971 by the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), followed by two revisions in 1982 and 1997. In order to improve their clinical performance and to reflect new knowledge on autoantibodies, new classification criteria for SLE were issued in 2012 by the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC). These criteria proposed to classify only patients that have at least one immunologic criterion, overcoming SLE classification based solely on clinical manifestations. In 2019, the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR)/ACR proposed new criteria that aimed to maintain the high specificity of the ACR criteria with a sensitivity close to the SLICC 2012 criteria. These 2019 criteria reinforced the importance of autoantibodies in SLE diagnosis, assigning the highest score (6 points) to anti-dsDNA antibodies in the fully weighted scoring of the disease. The current criteria require the use of an anti-dsDNA assay with at least 90% specificity, such as the Crithidia luciliae immunofluorescence test (CLIFT) or FARR assay. However, the criteria do not comment on all the tests currently widely used in clinical laboratories. Neither do they consider the technological evolutions, nor standardization issues. Since strict adherence to any of the classification criteria, including the serological items, could lead to possible misclassification of SLE and/or delayed diagnosis, test characteristics of the distinct immunoassays should be taken into consideration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number100139
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Translational Autoimmunity
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • Anti-dsDNA antibodies
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Classification criteria
  • Immunoassay
  • Standardization
  • SLE
  • DNA


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