Researchers Call for High-Quality Antinuclear Antibody Testing to Improve Lupus Classification and Treatment
In a recent letter published in the Annals of Rheumatic Diseases, lupus researchers underscore the importance of antinuclear antibody (ANA) testing when screening for lupus and propose the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR)/American College of Rheumatology (ACR) lupus classification criteria allow for multiple types of ANA tests. However, they also acknowledge the critical need for high-quality ANA screening, as some testing labs often provide cheap, inferior tests.
Such flawed tests can result in unnecessary additional testing and delayed treatment for those living with undiagnosed lupus. Therefore, until accurate and reliable ANA tests can be assured, the authors caution that ANA positivity must be viewed as classification criterion, and not a definitive diagnostic criterion. Because of the complexity of the disease and varying performance of different ANA tests, lupus diagnosis must be left to appropriately trained healthcare professionals.
The ANA test is commonly used to detect autoimmune disorders, and 97% of people with lupus test positive for ANA. While ANAs are a hallmark of the disease, more research is needed to understand the relationship between ANA positivity and lupus risk and disease development. The Lupus Foundation of America (LFA) currently has two Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Awardees conducting research on this topic, including a study led by LFA grantee Emily Littlejohn, D.O., M.P.H., as well as research led by LFA grantee May Choi, M.D, FRCPC.