New Insights into Antinuclear Antibody Levels in Lupus
Updated research by Lupus Foundation of America Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Awardee Emily Littlejohn, DO, MPH, indicates a high degree of variability in anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) lab test results within the same individual over time, whether or not the person has lupus. For those with lupus, ANA test results also increasingly vary over time. An ANA lab test is common practice in rheumatology. The ANA test represents ~ 150 types of specific antibodies, and some ANAs attack normal cells in the body as if they are a foreign invader, and their presence in the body is one hallmark sign of lupus.
“This research is important to people with lupus as it adds greater insight onto ANA testing and the meaning of changes in the ANA titer over time. If we can determine that changes in the ANA titer are meaningful clinically, this can help with determining disease activity and potentially disease prognosis in patients with lupus,” shares Dr. Littlejohn, lead study author and Gary S. Gilkeson Career Development Awardee with the Lupus Foundation of America.
ANA lab tests and basic demographic data were collected for a group with at least one ANA tests. A second group of people with at least two ANA tests was also created, and their results and outcomes were compared to the first group. Of 5,603 people with one positive ANA at first check-in, 7% of those with lupus and 17.2% of healthy people had a negative ANA test result at their next check-in. On average, people with lupus grew more likely to have a positive ANA test over time compared to healthy people.
Insights into ANA positivity are critical to the understanding and treatment of lupus. Learn more about Littlejohn and her research efforts.
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