The anti-double stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) tests are used to help diagnose and monitor lupus, also called systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE, a chronic inflammatory autoimmune disorder in which the immune system mistakenly targets the body’s own cells and tissues.
Your doctor may order an anti-dsDNA if you have a positive antinuclear antibody (ANA) test and symptoms associated with lupus, such as persistent fatigue, pain in your joints, and a red rash resembling a butterfly across the nose and cheeks. Anti-dsDNA tests are also periodically used to assess disease activity in people who have already been diagnosed with lupus.
The Farr method detects the high avidity anti-dsDNA antibodies. The Farr assay is the most specific method for detecting dsDNA auto antibodies. Significant elevations in dsDNA autoantibody concentrations confirm the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Serial studies of elevated values of dsDNA auto antibodies are useful for predicting activity of SLE and for measurement of serum C3 or C4 concentrations. Absence of dsDNA autoantibodies does not exclude the diagnosis of SLE. Doubling of dsDNA autoantibody concentrations or increases greater than 30 IU/mL in less than 10 weeks are reliably predictive of exacerbations of SLE. A simultaneous decrease in serum C4 complement enhances this predictive value.
A high level of anti-dsDNA in the blood is strongly associated with lupus and is often significantly increased during or just prior to a flare-up. When the anti-dsDNA is positive and you have other clinical signs and symptoms associated with lupus, it means that you likely have lupus. This is especially true if an anti-Sm test is also positive.
In the evaluation of someone with lupus nephritis, a high level (titer) of anti-dsDNA is generally associated with ongoing inflammation and damage to the kidneys.
The results of an anti-dsDNA test are usually considered with a person’s medical history, signs and symptoms, and results of other autoantibody tests.
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