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Anti-dsDNA

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Also known as: Antibody to ds-DNA; Native double-stranded DNA Antibody; anti-DNA; Double stranded DNA Antibody
Formal name: Anti-double-stranded DNA, IgG

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To help diagnose and monitor lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE)

When to Get Tested?

When you have a positive ANA test and signs and symptoms associated with lupus, such as persistent fatigue and weakness, arthritis-like pain in one or more joints, a red rash resembling a butterfly across the nose and cheeks, and/or skin sensitivity to light; periodically when you have been diagnosed with lupus

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

None

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Anti-double stranded DNA antibody (anti-dsDNA) is one of a group of autoantibodies called antinuclear antibodies (ANA). Normally, antibodies protect against infection, but autoantibodies are produced when a person's immune system fails to adequately distinguish between "self" and "non-self." They mistakenly attack the body's own healthy cells, causing tissue and organ damage. Anti-dsDNA specifically targets the genetic material (DNA) found in the nucleus of a cell, hence the name "anti-dsDNA." The anti-dsDNA test identifies the presence of these autoantibodies in the blood.

While anti-dsDNA may be present at a low level with a number of disorders, it is primarily associated with lupus. Lupus is a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder that can affect various tissues and/or organs of the body such as the kidneys, joints, blood vessels, skin, heart, lungs, and the brain. (For more on this, read the article on Lupus). The test for anti-dsDNA, along with other autoantibody tests, may be used to help establish a diagnosis of lupus and distinguish it from other autoimmune disorders.

One serious complication of lupus is lupus nephritis, a condition characterized by inflammation of the kidneys, which can lead to protein in the urine, high blood pressure, and kidney failure. It occurs when the autoantibodies bind to antigens and become deposited in the kidneys. In the evaluation of someone with lupus nephritis, a high level (titer) of anti-dsDNA is generally associated with ongoing inflammation and damage to the kidneys.  

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.

The Test

Common Questions

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Article Sources

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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.

Sources Used in Current Review

Mehra, S. and Fritzler, M (2014 April 03). The Spectrum of Anti-Chromatin/Nucleosome Autoantibodies: Independent and Interdependent Biomarkers of Disease. J Immunol Res. 2014; 2014: 368274. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3996305/ through http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed August 2014.

(© 1995–2014). DNA Double-Stranded (dsDNA) Antibodies, IgG, Serum. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/8178 through http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com. Accessed August 2014.

Bartels, C. and Muller, D. (Updated 2014 February 19). Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/332244-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed August 2014.

Tebo, A. (Updated 2014 March). Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – SLE. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/SLE.html?client_ID=LTD through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed August 2014.

Femia, A. et. al. (Updated 2014 March 18). Neonatal and Pediatric Lupus Erythematosus. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1006582-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed August 2014.

Bonella, F and Costabel, U. (2014 ). Biomarkers in Connective Tissue Disease-associated Interstitial Lung Disease. Medscape Multispecialty from Semin Respir Crit Care Med. 2014;35(1):181-200 [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/822878 through http://www.medscape.com. Accessed August 2014.

Boggs, W. (2014 February 07). Progression From Cutaneous to Systemic Lupus Erythematosus May Not Involve Systemic Symptoms. Medscape Multispecialty [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/820266 through http://www.medscape.com. Accessed August 2014.

Villalta, D. (2013 August 12). Anti-dsDNA Antibody Isotypes in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus: IgA in Addition to IgG Anti-dsDNA Help to Identify Glomerulonephritis and Active Disease. PLoS One. 2013; 8(8): e71458. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3741383/ through http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed August 2014.

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 81-82.

Stevens CD. Autoimmunity. (2002) In Clinical Immunology and Serology, 2nd edition. FA Davis:Philadelphia. Chapter 14.

Sources Used in Previous Reviews

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 81-82.

(© 1995-2011). Unit Code 8178: DNA Double-Stranded (ds-DNA) Antibodies, IgG, Serum. Mayo Clinic, Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/8178 through http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com. Accessed February 2011.

(© 2011). Laboratory Tests for Lupus. Lupus Foundation of America [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.lupus.org/webmodules/webarticlesnet/templates/new_learndiagnosing.aspx?articleid=2242&zoneid=524 through http://www.lupus.org. Accessed February 2011.

Bartels, C. and Muller, D. (Updated 2010 November 16). Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. eMedicine [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/332244-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed February 2011.

Hill, H. and Tebo, A. (Updated 2009 November). Systemic Lupus Erythematosus – SLE. ARUP Consult [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.arupconsult.com/Topics/SLE.html?client_ID=LTD#tabs=0 through http://www.arupconsult.com. Accessed February 2011.

(© 2008 – 2011). Double-Stranded DNA (dsDNA) Antibody, IgG by ELISA with Reflex to dsDNA Antibody, IgG by IFA : 0050215. ARUP's Laboratory Test Directory [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.aruplab.com/guides/ug/tests/0050215.jsp through http://www.aruplab.com. Accessed February 2011.

Isenberg, D. et. al. (2007 May 11). Fifty years of anti-ds DNA antibodies: are we approaching journey's end? Rheumatology (2007) 46 (7): 1052-1056 [On-line information]. Available online at http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org/content/46/7/1052.full through http://rheumatology.oxfordjournals.org. Accessed February 2011.

Hajj-ali, R. (Revised 2008 February). Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/sec04/ch032/ch032g.html?qt=anti double-stranded DNA&alt=sh through http://www.merckmanuals.com. Accessed February 2011.

(2007). Buhl, A. et. al. Novel Biosensor–Based Analytic Device for the Detection of Anti–Double-Stranded DNA Antibodies. Clinical Chemistry 53 (2) 334–341 [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.clinchem.org/cgi/reprint/53/2/334 through http://www.clinchem.org. Accessed February 2011.

Peter, J. and Blum, R. (© 1998–2011). Double-Stranded DNA Autoantibodies. Specialty Laboratories, Use & Interpretation of Laboratory Tests Books [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.specialtylabs.com/books/display.asp?id=660 through http://www.specialtylabs.com. Accessed February 2011.

(March 21, 2011) Brent L. Lupus Nephritis. eMedicine article. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/330369-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed April 2011.

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