ANA Test

ANA is short for anti-nuclear antibody, and this test is used to diagnose SLE. However, it can come up positive for cases of Sjogren’s syndrome, Raynaud’s disease, juvenile chronic arthritis, scleroderma, rheumatoid arthritis, antiphospholipid syndrome, and many other autoimmune disorders. This is why the ANA test is used within the ACR criteria, but it is not necessarily the definitive test for lupus.

The ANA test is usually ordered when common lupus symptoms are seen over a long period of time. With mild symptoms it can take doctors years to recognize a pattern that warrants a lupus test. The positive test only tells the doctor that there is an autoimmune disease present, so further testing will be needed. Also, there is sometimes a false positive ANA test, which happens more often as people get older. Usually a false positive test result is associated with certain drugs, and those drugs can sometimes contribute to DILE development.

Approximately 95 percent of SLE patients have a positive ANA test9. If the ACR criteria are not met, other tests like the anti-dsDNA and anti-SM tests can help doctors determine SLE.

Anti-DNA Test
The long name for the Anti-DNA test is the Antibody to Double Stranded Deoxyribonucleic Acid test. DNA is an important part of the cell nucleus and it is what makes up our genes. The anti-DNA antibody is the reason people have a positive ANA test. If a person has a positive ANA test, but not anti-DNA, have antibodies that are attacking other parts of the cell nucleus.

A positive result on the anti-DNA test almost always confirms a lupus diagnosis. The higher the amount of anti-DNA, the more active lupus is. On rare occasions relatives of lupus patients will have positive anti-DNA tests without active lupus symptoms. There are some other rare diseases that can also produce a positive anti-DNA test.

While a positive anti-DNA test offers a definitive lupus diagnosis, a negative test does not necessarily mean lupus is not present. Sometimes it just means that the lupus is in remission. Other tests can still be positive in lupus patients that have a negative anti-DNA tests.
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