This test looks for substances called antimitochondrial antibody and antimitochondrial M2 antibody in your blood.
These substances are usually made by your body if you have a condition called primary biliary cirrhosis (PBC). PBC is the most common autoimmune disease that affects the liver. In autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks organs or tissues in the body. Antimitochondrial antibody is found in nearly 19 in 20 people with PBC.
PBC causes damage to ducts in the liver that drain away fluid called bile. As a result bile builds up in the liver. This scars the liver. This scarring keeps the liver from working as it should. Over time, it causes liver failure.
PBC is especially common in middle-aged women. It often strikes along with other autoimmune diseases, especially Sjögren syndrome.
PBC is usually diagnosed and treated early in the course of the disease. This is good, because early treatment can slow down liver scarring. It delays liver failure.
Antimitochondrial antibodies (AMA) have been reported in 90% to 96% of patients with primary biliary cirrhosis. AMA are also occasionally found in sera of patients with other liver diseases, including chronic active hepatitis, cryptogenic cirrhosis, as well as in patients with clinical but no biochemical evidence of liver disease. The M2 antigen used is strongly associated with PBC, while other types (M1, M2, M5, and M6) are associated with a wide variety of conditions.
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