At a Glance
Why Get Tested?
To test for certain autoimmune disorders, such as Wegener's granulomatosis (WG), microscopic polyangitis (MPA), and a number of others
When to Get Tested?
When your doctor thinks that you have symptoms that may be due to a vascular autoimmune disorder; sometimes to monitor response to therapy
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm
Test Preparation Needed?
The Test Sample
What is being tested?
Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies (ANCA) are a group of autoantibodies produced when a person's immune system mistakenly targets and attacks its own neutrophil proteins. Two of the most commonly targeted proteins are myeloperoxidase (MPO) and proteinase 3 (PR3). This results in the production of antibodies to MPO and/or PR3. The ANCA blood test detects the presence or absence of these autoantibodies by looking at the pattern of fluorescence on a slide under the microscope.
Antineutrophil cytoplasmic antibodies may be present in a variety of autoimmune disorders that cause inflammation and damage to blood vessels throughout the body (systemic vasculitis). Vasculitis can cause tissue and organ damage due to the narrowing and obstruction of blood vessels and the subsequent loss of blood supply. It can also produce areas of weakness in blood vessel walls, known as aneurysms, which have the potential to rupture.
The symptoms experienced by a person with systemic vasculitis depend upon the degree of autoimmune activity and the parts of the body involved. Early in the disease process, symptoms are often nonspecific – they include fatigue, fever, weight loss, muscle aches, and night sweats. As the disorder progresses, vascular damage may affect the functioning of the kidneys, eyes, skin, lungs, and liver. This can cause a wide range of symptoms related to these organ systems.
PR3 antibodies are most frequently seen in Wegener's granulomatosis (WG). MPO antibodies are most often associated with microscopic polyangiitis but may also be seen in people with pauci-immune necrotizing glomerulonephritis, Churg-Strauss syndrome, and WG. For more about these conditions, visit the Vasculitis Foundation.
How is the sample collected for testing?
A blood sample is obtained by inserting a needle into a vein in the arm.
NOTE: If undergoing medical tests makes you or someone you care for anxious, embarrassed, or even difficult to manage, you might consider reading one or more of the following articles: Coping with Test Pain, Discomfort, and Anxiety, Tips on Blood Testing, Tips to Help Children through Their Medical Tests, and Tips to Help the Elderly through Their Medical Tests.
Another article, Follow That Sample, provides a glimpse at the collection and processing of a blood sample and throat culture.
Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?
No test preparation is needed.
Ask a Laboratory Scientist
Form temporarily unavailable
Due to a dramatic increase in the number of questions submitted to the volunteer laboratory scientists who respond to our users, we have had to limit the number of questions that can be submitted each day. Unfortunately, we have reached that limit today and are unable to accept your inquiry now. We understand that your questions are vital to your health and peace of mind, and recommend instead that you speak with your doctor or another healthcare professional. We apologize for this inconvenience.
This was not an easy step for us to take, as the volunteers on the response team are dedicated to the work they do and are often inspired by the help they can provide. We are actively seeking to expand our capability so that we can again accept and answer all user questions. We will accept and respond to the same limited number of questions tomorrow, but expect to resume the service, 24/7, as soon as possible.
NOTE: This article is based on research that utilizes the sources cited here as well as the collective experience of the Lab Tests Online Editorial Review Board. This article is periodically reviewed by the Editorial Board and may be updated as a result of the review. Any new sources cited will be added to the list and distinguished from the original sources used.
(2009 March). Vasculitis. National Heart Lung and Blood Institute [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/dci/Diseases/vas/vas_whatis.html through http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov. Accessed June 2010.
(© 2006-2010). MPO/PR-3 (ANCA) Antibodies : 0050707. ARUP's Laboratory Test Directory [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.aruplab.com/guides/ug/tests/0050707.jsp through http://www.aruplab.com. Accessed June 2010.
(Updated 2009 August). Vasculitis – ANCA. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/ANCA.html?client_ID=LTD through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed June 2010.
Borigini, M.J. (Updated 2009 May 31). Necrotizing Vasculitis. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000432.htm. Accessed June 2010.
Mayo Clinic Staff (2009 October 10). Vasculitis [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vasculitis/DS00513/METHOD=print through http://www.mayoclinic.com. Accessed June 2010.
Revelo, P. and Tebo, A. (Updated 2009 August). Goodpasture Syndrome - Anti-GBM Disease. (ARUP Consult) [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/GoodpastureSyndrome.html?client_ID=LTD# through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed June 2010.
Gota, C. (Updated 2008 May). Introduction: Vasculitis. Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.merck.com/mmpe/sec04/ch033/ch033a.html through http://www.merck.com. Accessed June 2010.
Trevisin, M. et. al. (2008 March 10). Antigen-Specific ANCA ELISAs Have Different Sensitivities for Active and Treated Vasculitis and for Nonvasculitic Disease. Medscape from American Journal of Clinical Pathology. 2008;129(1):42-53 [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/568996 through http://www.medscape.com. Accessed June 2010.
(Updated 2009 January 30). Anti-Neutrophile Cytoplasmic Antibody, Serum. Pathology Associates of Lexington, P.A. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.palpath.com/MedicalTestPages/anca.htm through http://www.palpath.com. Accessed June 2010.
(© 1995–2010) Unit Code 83012: Antineutrophil Cytoplasmic Antibodies Vasculitis Panel, Serum. Mayo Clinic, Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/83012 through http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com. Accessed June 2010.
Papadopoulos, P. and O’Brian, R. (Updated 2009 August 4). Wegener Granulomatosis. eMedicine [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/332622-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed June 2010.
Lohr, J. and Owens, K. (Updated 2008 September 4). Glomerulonephritis, Rapidly Progressive. eMedicine [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/240457-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed June 2010.
Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2007). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 8th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 88-89.
Wu, A. (© 2006). Tietz Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests, 4th Edition: Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, MO., Pp 750-751, 928-929.
Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods. 21st ed. McPherson R, Pincus M, eds. Philadelphia, PA: Saunders Elsevier: 2007, Pp 935-937.
Kasper DL, Braunwald E, Fauci AS, Hauser SL, Longo DL, Jameson JL eds (2005). Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 16th Edition, McGraw Hill, Pp 2002-2003.