Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA)

The presence of these antibodies in the bloodstream may indicate different types of autoimmune disease.

PLEASE NOTE: ALL RESULTS AND INFORMATION PROVIDED BY HEALTH eLABS ARE INTENDED FOR GENERAL HEALTH INFORMATION PURPOSES ONLY. AS SUCH THEY ARE NOT A SUBSTITUTE FOR PROFESSIONAL MEDICAL ADVICE OR A MEDICAL EXAMINATION, AND SHOULD NOT BE USED TO DIAGNOSE, TREAT, PREVENT OR CURE ANY DISEASE, SYNDROME, OR CONDITION WITHOUT THE SUPERVISION OF A LICENSED PHYSICIAN.

$40.00

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This test can also be purchased as part of our Autoimmune panel.

PREPARATION: No fasting or other special preparation is needed for this test.

What does this test do?

This test determines the presence and concentration of Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) circulating in the bloodstream.

Why is this important?

Anti-Nuclear Antibodies (ANA) are a group of antibodies which attack the control center (the nucleus) of certain cells. Normally they are not found in the bloodstream, but different autoimmune diseases are known to produce high concentrations of these antibodies. In this case, the specific aspects of this test can be used to aid in determining a specific diagnosis.

What do the results mean?

There are two different types of results reported on testing: the titer and the pattern.

The titer represents the actual amount, or concentration of anti-nuclear antibodies circulating in the bloodstream. Usually this titer level is low and is reported as negative. With increasing concentrations however (anything greater than 1:320) the test is considered to be positive.

When the titer is high enought to be considered positive, further testing is then performed to look at individual cells, using a special microscopic staining technique called immunoflourescence.

This analyzes the pattern of how antinuclear antibodies attack the nucleus of different cells. These patterns can be used to help differentiate certain disorders:

  • A homogeneous, or diffuse pattern can be associated with lupus erythematosus and mixed connective tissue disease.
  • A speckled or uneven pattern of adherence can be seen in lupus erythematosus, Sjogren syndrome, scleroderma, polymyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, and mixed connective tissue disease.
  • In cases where a small organelle found within the nucleus – the nucleolus – is covered with ANA, the pattern is said to be nucleolar and can be associated with scleroderma and polymyositis.
  • The centromere, or peripheral pattern is most commonly seen in scleroderma and CREST (Calcinosis, Raynaud’s syndrome, Esophageal dysmotility, Sclerodactyly, Telangiectasia) syndrome.

An example of a positive result might read: “Positive at 1:320 dilution with a homogenous pattern.”

While a negative ANA test is reassuring, a positive result does not always indicate a disease process. Many factors, including a number of medications, certain infections, and advancing age can produce a false positive result. In fact, as many as 1/3 of individuals over the age of 65 can have high ANA titers without any significant clinical findings.

In addition, since the ANA titer may be elevated long before a person experiences the signs and symptoms of an autoimmune disease, it may take months or even years to tell the true meaning of a positive test result. Sometimes further specific testing is required to assist in making a final diagnosis.

Because the signs and symptoms of an autoimmune process may come and go, and since many positive ANA results don’t have significance, ongoing vigilance for development of true disease is necessary. In these cases a physician will consider the test results along with other factors, including a thorough history and physical examination, before making any diagnosis.