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A 31-year-old female asked:

if an autoimmune disease is in remission at the time of ana testing could the test be negative but possibly still have the disease. eg ra or sle ?

3 doctor answers6 doctors weighed in
Dr. Nayla Mumneh
Allergy and Immunology 29 years experience
Yes: The ANA fluctuates.
Dr. Sheeja Francis
Rheumatology 20 years experience
ANA does not fluctuate with disease activity.
Feb 26, 2013
Dr. Ronald Krauser
Rheumatology 52 years experience
Yes: Autoantibody tests can sometimes become negative when the disease is in remission. However, the high likelihood is that the underlying disease is still present.
Dr. Sheeja Francis
Rheumatology 20 years experience
ANA does not change based on disease activity.
Feb 26, 2013
Dr. Ed Friedlander
Pathology 44 years experience
Yes: The anti-nuclear antibody (ANA) titer fluctuates over time, and it's also a test fraught with pitfalls within the lab, with results hard to reproduce even from day to day. I'm very glad you asked; this is a thoughtful and important question that touches on how tricky it is to manage these diseases. The key is treat the person, not the lab value.
Dr. Sheeja Francis
Rheumatology 20 years experience
ANA does not fluctuate based on disease activity. Approximately 15% of the normal population may have a positive ANA. All autoimmune diseases are diagnosed clinically and laboratory results are used as supporting tools.
Feb 26, 2013

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Last updated Jan 20, 2020

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