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Antinuclear Antibody Test

ANA is an type of antibody that your body develops in some types of autoimmune diseases. ANA are a unique group of antibodies that have the ability to attack structures in the nucleus of cells. This is where they get their name. Anti-nuclear means that the antibodies attack the nucleus of your bodies cells. ANA is used in the diagnosis of SLE, Sjogren's syndrome, scleroderma, polymyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, and mixed connective tissue disease.

Purpose of Antinuclear Antibody Test

The antinuclear antibody test looks for a group of autoantibodies that attack substances found in the center (nucleus) of all cells. It is useful as a screen for many autoantibodies associated with diseases that affect the entire body (systemic diseases).

This test is particularly useful when diagnosing a person with symptoms of SLE, an illness that affects many body organs and tissues. If the test is negative, it is unlikely that the person has SLE; if the test is positive, more tests are done to confirm whether the person has SLE or another related disease. Other diseases, such as scleroderma , Sjogren's syndrome, Raynaud's disease, rheumatoid arthritis , and autoimmune hepatitis, often have a positive test for antinuclear antibodies.

What do the results of an Antinuclear Antibody Test Mean.

Many people have low levels of ANA in their blood. This tends to increase as we get older. It is possible to have higher levels of ANA and not have an autoimmune disease. It is rare for this to happen and when it does it is called a false positive. A normal ANA is anything that shows up as less than 1:310 in a blood titer. The higher the concentration the lower ratios such as.

1:40 positive
1:80 positive
1:160 positive
1:320 negative
1:420 negative

What are the patterns of an Antinuclear Antibody Test.

ANA test results show up in patterns. So if you get test results back from an ANA test it may show up as "Positive at 1:340 dilution with a homogenous pattern". These patterns show up when views under a powerful microscope. The common patterns of ANA are.

  • Homogenous (diffuse) - associated with SLE and mixed connective tissue disease

  • Speckled - associated with SLE, Sjogren's syndrome, scleroderma, polymyositis, rheumatoid arthritis, and mixed connective tissue disease

  • Nucleolar - associated with scleroderma and polymyositis

  • Outline pattern (peripheral) -associated with SLE






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Arthritis can develop as a result of an infection. For example, bacteria that cause gonorrhea or Lyme disease can cause arthritis. Infectious arthritis can cause serious damage, but usually clears up completely with antibiotics. Scleroderma is a systemic disease that involves the skin, but may include problems with blood vessels, joints, and internal organs. Fibromyalgia syndrome is soft-tissue rheumatism that doesn't lead to joint deformity, but affects an estimated 5 million Americans, mostly women. The approximate number of cases in the United States of some common forms of arthritis. is an informational out reach of the Consumer Health Information Network. It is our goal to provide up to date information about arthritis and other inflammatory and bone conditions in a easy to understand format.

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