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Histone Antibody

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Also known as: Histone Autoantibodies
Formal name: Antihistone Antibody
Related tests: ANA, Autoantibodies, Anti-dsDNA, Anti-ssDNA, Antichromatin Antibody, Anti-Sm Antibody

At a Glance

Why Get Tested?

To help in the diagnosis and monitoring of drug-induced lupus erythematosus

When to Get Tested?

When you have symptoms associated with lupus that may be due to a drug that you are taking

Sample Required?

A blood sample drawn from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?


The Test Sample

What is being tested?

Histone antibodies are autoantibodies. These are antibodies produced by a person's own immune system that target his or her own histones. Histones are proteins that are a part of chromatin, the genetic material present in the nucleus of almost all cells within the body. Because histones are found inside cells, this attack on "self" can cause symptoms throughout the body. This test detects the presence of histone antibodies in the blood.

Histone autoantibodies are one of several types of antinuclear antibodies (ANA). ANA are associated with a variety of autoimmune disorders, including lupus. The presence or absence of specific antinuclear antibodies is used to help determine which disorder a person may have.

Drugs can stimulate the production of histone antibodies in some people and can cause a type of lupus called drug-induced lupus erythematosus. Up to 95% of those with drug-induced lupus will have histone antibodies. The autoantibodies may also develop in up to 50% of those with non-drug-induced lupus and in 20% of those with other connective tissue diseases.

Many drugs have been associated with drug-induced lupus in some people. Some of the more common examples include:

  • Hydralazine
  • Isoniazid
  • Minocycline
  • Penicillamine
  • Procainamide
  • Quinidine

Others types of medications associated with drug-induced lupus include:

  • Antibiotics
  • Anti-seizure medications
  • Anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) agents
  • Interferon-alpha
  • Blood pressure medications
  • Methyldopa
  • Thyroid medications

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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(© 1995 – 2013). Histone Autoantibodies, Serum. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at through Accessed September 2013 .

(© 2013). Laboratory Tests for Lupus. Lupus Foundation of America [On-line information]. Available online at through Accessed September 2013.

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