At a Glance
Why Get Tested?
To help diagnose and monitor systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE)
When to Get Tested?
When you have symptoms associated with SLE and a positive ANA test; periodically when you have been diagnosed with SLE
A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm
Test Preparation Needed?
The Test Sample
What is being tested?
This test measures the amount of antibody to double-stranded deoxyribonucleic acid (anti-dsDNA) that may be present in the blood. Anti-dsDNA is an autoantibody, produced when a person's immune system fails to distinguish between "self" and "non-self" cellular components. It mistakenly targets and attacks the body's own genetic material, causing inflammation, tissue damage, and other signs and symptoms that are associated with an autoimmune disorder.
Anti-dsDNA is one of several antinuclear antibodies (ANA), a group of antibodies directed against substances found in the nucleus of cells. While it may be present at a low level with a number of disorders, anti-dsDNA is primarily associated with the autoimmune disorder systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE or Lupus). SLE can affect the kidneys, joints, blood vessels, skin, heart, lungs, and the brain. Symptoms may include joint pain, rashes, fatigue, and kidney dysfunction. SLE occurs most frequently in women between the ages of 15 to 40 and is more common in non-Caucasians. While no direct cause is known, there may be some genetic predisposition. Certain drugs, chemicals, sunlight, or viral infections may trigger an episode.
One particularly serious complication of SLE 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 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.
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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.
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(© 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.
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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.