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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?

None

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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Teitel, A. (Updated 2011 June 28). Drug-induced lupus erythematosus. MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000446.htm. Accessed September 2013.

(© 1995 – 2013). Histone Autoantibodies, Serum. Mayo Clinic Mayo Medical Laboratories [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com/test-catalog/Overview/80944 through http://www.mayomedicallaboratories.com. Accessed September 2013 .

(© 2013). 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 September 2013.

(2013 May). Handout on Health: Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Disease [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.niams.nih.gov/Health_Info/Lupus/default.asp through http://www.niams.nih.gov. Accessed September 2013.

Camilla Dalle Vedove, C. et. al. (2012 December). Drug-induced lupus erythematosus with emphasis on skin manifestations and the role of anti-TNFα agents. J Dtsch Dermatol Ges v 10 (12): 889–897. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3561694/ through http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed September 2013.

Maidhof, W. and Hilas, O. (2012 April). Lupus: An Overview of the Disease and Management Options. P T. 2012 April; v 37(4): 240-246, 249. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3351863/ through http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed September 2013.

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Khattri, S. et. al. (2011). Isoniazid (INH)-Induced Eosinophilic Exudative Pleural Effusion and Lupus Erythematosus, A Clinical Reminder of Drug Side Effects. Bull NYU Hosp Jt Dis. 2011;69(2):181-4. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22035399 through http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed September 2013.

Ali, A. and Schmidt, M. (2013 May 10). Drug-Induced Pulmonary Toxicity. Medscape Reference [On-line information]. Available online at http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/1343451-overview through http://emedicine.medscape.com. Accessed September 2013.

Almoallim, H. et. al. (2012 November 16). Anti-Tumor Necrosis Factor-α Induced Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. Open Rheumatol J. 2012; v 6: 315–319. [On-line information]. Available online at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3504723/ through http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed September 2013.

Pagana, K. D. & Pagana, T. J. (© 2011). Mosby's Diagnostic and Laboratory Test Reference 10th Edition: Mosby, Inc., Saint Louis, MO. Pp 74.

Wu, A. (© 2006). Tietz Clinical Guide to Laboratory Tests, 4th Edition: Saunders Elsevier, St. Louis, MO. Pp 128-129.

Von Muhlen CA, Nakamura RM (2011). Clinical and laboratory evaluation of systemic rheumatic diseases, in Henry's Clinical Diagnosis and Management by Laboratory Methods, 22nd ed. McPherson RA, Pincus MR, eds. Elsevier-Sanders:Philadelphia. Chapter 51.

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