Health Library

Autoimmune Disease Tests

Test Overview

Tests for autoimmune diseases measure the amount of certain antibodies in your blood. Your body makes antibodies to attack and destroy substances such as bacteria and viruses. But in autoimmune diseases, the antibodies attack and destroy your body's tissues. This can lead to diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, scleroderma, and lupus. These health problems affect the connective tissues, such as the skin and joints, and blood vessels and other tissues.

Autoimmune tests may include anti-dsDNA, anti-RNP, anti-Smith (or anti-Sm), anti-Sjogren's SSA and SSB, anti-scleroderma or anti-Scl-70, anti-Jo-1, and anti-CCP. Antibody against cardiolipin also may be tested.

If you have several of these antibodies—or have them in high amounts—you may have an autoimmune disease.

You may have had an antinuclear antibody test, or ANA. This test is often done first to look for antibodies that can cause autoimmune problems. A rheumatoid factor test is also done to look for rheumatoid arthritis.

Your doctor will look at several things to decide if you have one of these conditions. He or she will look at your symptoms and the results of these and other tests.

Why It Is Done

These tests help your doctor see if you have an autoimmune disease, such as:

Your doctor may want you to have these tests if you have symptoms such as joint pain, muscle aches, and fever.

Your doctor will use these tests and your symptoms to see if you have a health problem.

How To Prepare

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How It Is Done

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

Watch

How It Feels

When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.

Results

A normal (negative) result means that antibodies for autoimmune diseases were not found. An abnormal (positive) result means that one or more of these antibodies were found.

Credits

Current as of: June 17, 2021

Author: Healthwise Staff
Medical Review:
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
E. Gregory Thompson MD - Internal Medicine
Martin J. Gabica MD - Family Medicine