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Autoantibodies Test

Last updated July 23, 2019

Approved by: Krish Tangella MD, MBA, FCAP

Autoantibodies Tests help in diagnosing and monitoring such autoimmune diseases and disorders.

What are the other Names for this Test? (Equivalent Terms)

  • Autoimmunoglobulins Test

What is Autoantibodies Test? (Background Information)

  • Antibodies or immunoglobulins are proteins produced by the body’s immune system in response to a provoking substance, called an antigen
  • This antigen is a foreign substance to the body and hence, the immune system responds to this “invader” by mounting a defense mechanism aimed at getting rid of this foreign substance. This helps the body in fighting infections normally
  • However, in some instances, the immune system fails to recognize the body’s own tissues and starts producing antibodies against them. These antibodies, termed as autoantibodies, damage the body’s own tissues (damage of “self-tissue”), leading to a group of diseases, called autoimmune disorders
  • The damage may be organ-specific (e.g. the thyroid is affected in autoimmune conditions, like Graves’s disease or Hashimoto’s thyroiditis), or it may be widespread in the whole body (e.g. in autoimmune conditions, such as systemic lupus erythematosus, or SLE)
  • Autoantibodies Tests help in diagnosing and monitoring such autoimmune diseases and disorders

What are the Clinical Indications for performing the Autoantibodies Test?

The physician may order Autoantibodies Tests, if he/she suspects an underlying autoimmune disorder.

  • The symptoms of such a condition vary; they depend on the organ systems involved
  • Autoantibody Tests also assist in the diagnosis, assessment of severity, monitoring of diseases, and evaluation of treatment success

How is the Specimen Collected for Autoantibodies Test?

Sample required: Blood

Process: Blood sample is drawn through a needle inserted into the vein (arm).

Preparation required: Generally none - however, the physician may sometimes offer advice related to any medications that may be consumed at the time of testing, depending on the autoantibody that is being tested for. It is necessary to inform your physician, details pertaining to the current medications you are taking.

What is the Significance of the Autoantibodies Test Result?

The presence of particular autoantibodies helps in making a diagnosis of specific autoimmune diseases. Some of the commonly tested autoantibodies and the pertaining organ systems are, as follows:

  • Thyroid - anti-thyroid peroxidase, thyroid-stimulating immunoglobulins
  • Liver - anti-mitochondrial antibody, liver-kidney microsomal autoantibodies
  • Gastrointestinal tract - intrinsic factor antibodies, anti-gliadin antibodies
  • Kidney - anti-glomerular basement membrane
  • Systemic autoantibodies (cause widespread tissue damage)
    • Antinuclear antibodies
    • Anti-dsDNA antibodies
    • p-ANCA (perinuclear anti-neutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies)
    • c-ANCA (cytoplasmic antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibody)
    • Rheumatoid factor (RF)

The laboratory test results are NOT to be interpreted as results of a "stand-alone" test. The test results have to be interpreted after correlating with suitable clinical findings and additional supplemental tests/information. Your healthcare providers will explain the meaning of your tests results, based on the overall clinical scenario.

Additional and Relevant Useful Information:

Certain medications that you may be currently taking may influence the outcome of the test. Hence, it is important to inform your healthcare provider, the complete list of medications (including any herbal supplements) you are currently taking. This will help the healthcare provider interpret your test results more accurately and avoid unnecessary chances of a misdiagnosis.

Reviewed and Approved by a member of the DoveMed Editorial Board
First uploaded: March 6, 2014
Last updated: July 23, 2019