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Lupus 101:Basics-ANA Revisited

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Lupus 101
Lupus Basics
ANA Revisited

The immunofluorescent anti-nuclear antibody (ANA, or FANA): a test to determine if autoantibodies to cell nuclei are present in the blood.

An ANA is not conclusive on its own.

There is no one test that can definitely say whether a person has lupus or not, there are many laboratory tests which aid the physician in making a lupus diagnosis. It takes a qualified physician (rheumatologist) using it as a tool in combination with  other indicators to make a diagnosis.

"workingmom975" Answered a question about ANA this way...

"The way the ANA tests works is that they make a solution from your sample and look for a specific antibody (AntiNuclear Antibody). If they find it they dilute the sample and look again. This continues until they can't detect the antibody any more. A low titer means that after just a couple of dilutions they couldn't detect the antibody anymore, meaning it had a low concentration to begin with.

A lot of things can cause a positive ANA test, especially if it is a low titer. Sometimes people can have a positive ANA without anything else being wrong. They say that 95% of people with lupus have a positive ANA test (usually a higher titer) so the doctors aren't likely to diagnose lupus with a negative result, and may be reluctant if the titer is low. Having said that, the ANA value can vary, so it could be higher at a later date, and I for one believe that there are some of us who have something wrong (if not Lupus, then something lupus-like) without a positive ANA. "

You can also find a more technical version of ANA testing in  TEST.

 I cannot stress enough that the results of an ANA test is NO indication that you have lupus. It is not a good indicator that your lupus has increased or decreased its activity.

ANA is a tool for your physician.

 ANA reports include a titer (number) and a pattern. ANA titers go up and down during the course of illness, age and other disease.

An ANA or FANA test can even be weakly positive in healthy individuals. The chances of a person having a positive ANA test increases with age.

(What disease and or any disease activity are best left to doctors to decide.)

A titer of between the reference ranges of 1:80 and 1:160 is considered, in most laboratory test, to be within a normal range. Because of how it is determined, a 1:640 shows a greater concentration of anti-nuclear antibodies than a titer of 1:320 or 1:160.

The patterns found in ANA are another indicator for your doctor.

A person may have a smooth pattern, a speckled pattern, a rim pattern (found almost exclusively in SLE) or a nucleolar pattern.

The homogeneous (smooth) pattern is found in a variety of connective tissue diseases, some rheumatic diseases, or in patients taking particular drugs.

The speckled pattern is found in mainly in other connective tissue diseases or autoimmune diseases, while the peripheral (or rim) pattern is found almost exclusively in SLE.

The nucleolar (a pattern with a few large spots) pattern is found primarily in patients with scleroderma.

A titer ABOVE 1:80 which is usually considered positive disease activity and a peripheral pattern titer are usually suspect of Lupus



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