Anticentromere Antibody

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Also known as: Centromere Antibody; ACA
Formal name: Anticentromere Antibody
Related tests: ANA, Autoantibodies, ENA Panel

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To detect the presence of anticentromere antibodies; to help diagnose limited cutaneous scleroderma

When to Get Tested?

When you have one or more symptoms that suggest CREST syndrome

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

None

The Test Sample

What is being tested?

The anticentromere antibody (ACA) is an autoantibody, a protein produced by the immune system that mistakenly targets the body's own tissues. ACA is one of several antinuclear antibodies and targets the centromere, a component of the chromosomes found in the nucleus of the body's cells. The ACA test detects and measures the amount of anticentromere antibody in the blood to help diagnose a form of scleroderma.

Scleroderma (also known as systemic sclerosis) is a group of rare connective tissue disorders. There are two distinct subtypes: diffuse cutaneous systemic sclerosis that affects the entire body and limited cutaneous systemic sclerosis. These subsets of systemic sclerosis are defined on the basis of the extent of skin involvement. ACA is found in about 60-80% of people who have limited cutaneous scleroderma; only about 5% of patients with diffuse scleroderma have ACA.

Limited cutaneous scleroderma is typically associated with one or more symptoms that are known collectively as CREST syndrome.

CREST syndrome symptoms include:

  • Calcinosis – calcium deposits under the skin
  • Raynaud phenomenon – episodes of decreased blood flow to fingers and toes, causing them to turn white and blue
  • Esophageal dysfunction – difficulty swallowing, acid reflux, and heartburn
  • Sclerodactyly – tight, thick, shiny skin on the hands and fingers
  • Telangiectasia – red spots on skin due to swollen capillaries

Anticentromere antibody can be present in up to 95% of people who have CREST syndrome.

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.

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Assassi, S. et. al. (2009 October). Primary Biliary Cirrhosis (PBC), PBC Autoantibodies, and Hepatic Parameter Abnormalities in a Large Population of Systemic Sclerosis Patients. J Rheumatol. v36(10): 2250–2256. [On-line information]. PDF available for download at http://ukpmc.ac.uk/articles/PMC2885441/pdf/nihms201893.pdf through http://ukpmc.ac.uk. Accessed February 2012.

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Makover, M. (Updated 2011 February 14). Scleroderma. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000429.htm. Accessed February 2012.

Hajj-ali, R. (Updated 2008 February). Systemic Sclerosis. Merck Manual for Healthcare Professionals [On-line information]. Available online through http://www.merckmanuals.com. Accessed February 2012.

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Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 73.