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Direct immunofluorescence is used for the detection of tissue bound proteins such as antibodies and complement. Two types of tissue, skin or renal, are processed, although occasionally others may be submitted (e.g. oral mucosa, conjunctiva). Biopsies are taken from patients; snap-frozen and sectioned prior to incubation with fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC) conjugated anti-sera. This method allows for the detection of tissue bound antibodies when there may be insufficient levels to detect in serum. Other tissue reactants such as complement and fibrinogen can also be detected. In some disease states patterns of staining can be diagnostic.


Instructions for Collection of Samples


Do NOT Put Samples For IMF in to Formalin


Skin Samples

Skin samples are wrapped in saline soaked gauze and place in a universal container with full patient details label attached.  The skin samples must include the dermal-epidermal junction (DEJ) for tests to be performed.


Renal Samples

Renal samples are placed in saline solution in a universal container with full patient details label attached.  Renal samples must include the portion of a kidney containing glomureli.

Any other tissue sample requiring IMF must be placed in saline.  Formalin is NOT an appropriate medium; IMF tests cannot be performed on formalin fixed tissue.




Sending samples to Cellular Pathology department

Samples from patients with known infectious risks ie. Hep B, TB, HIV must be discussed with a pathologist or Immunologist before the sample is taken.

Fill out a Histology form with all the patient and corresponding clinical details. The form must be clearly labelled IMF.

If a sample for routine histology has been taken alongside the IMF sample then one form can be sent detailing the pots and instructions for tests needed.  All samples taken on one patient are to be sent together (thus one uniform report can be generated).

 Samples requiring IMF analysis must be sent as soon as possible, within 24 hours of collection to ensure optimal results.


For further information contact

                Mr Gavin Rock – Deputy Head Biomedical Scientist – 0121 424 3188

                Dr Gerald Langman, Renal Specialist – 0121 424 3189

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The laboratories at Heartlands Hospital, Good Hope Hospital and Solihull Hospital form part of the services provided by University Hospitals Birmingham and are UKAS (United Kingdom Accreditation Service) accredited to the ISO 15189:2012 standard. For a list of accredited tests and other information please visit the UKAS website using the following link: https://www.ukas.com/find-an-organisation/

  • Heartlands, Good Hope and Solihull Hospital pathology laboratories are a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8217
  • United Kingdom Health Security Agency laboratory is a UKAS accredited medical laboratory No.8213

Tests not appearing on the UKAS Schedule of Accreditation currently remain outside of our scope of accreditation. However, these tests have been validated to the same high standard as accredited tests and are performed by the same trained and competent staff.

For further test information, please visit the test database: http://www.heftpathology.com/frontpage/test-database.html.

Protection of personal information - Laboratory Medicine comply with the Trust Data Protection policy and have procedures in place to allow the Directorate and its employees to comply with the Data Protection act  1998 and associated best practice and guidance.

For further information contact Louise Fallon, Quality Manager, 0121 424 1235