Commonly used lupus blood tests
Complete Blood Count (CBC)
A complete blood count looks at whole, unseparated blood. The goal of this test is to look at the overall health of the various cells that make up blood, including platelets, white blood cells, and red blood cells. Of particular importance to lupus are the white blood cells, which are a part of the immune response. If white blood cell levels are high, that can mean that there are abnormally high levels of inflammation in the body.
While lupus is not always the cause, a complete blood count test can find signs of immune system distress, potential blood clotting issues, and anemia. These factors can have major impacts on the health of Lupus Warriors.
Blood samples may be tested to see if they clot properly. If they aren’t, this can indicate that there is a problem with the platelets. This can be a sign of lupus, and can also be life-threatening if not investigated and treated.
Antinuclear Antibody Test (ANA)
The ANA test (AntiNuclear Antibody) looks for specific antibodies that are the usual culprits in autoimmune disease. Many of these antibodies attack the nucleus of cells, where the DNA is located.
Although a positive reading for ANA doesn’t mean that a person has lupus, ~97% of people with SLE have positive ANA tests. Still, a positive ANA is part of the clinician diagnosis checklist.
Other Autoantibody Tests
But, ANAs are not the only antibodies in the blood. Other antibodies can help clinicians understand problems because they are associated with particular conditions. For example:
- Anti dsDNA is associated with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and can be used to gauge severity in people with lupus nephritis
- Anti-ro/SSA and Anti-La/SSB antibodies are associated with SLE and Sjogren’s syndrome
- Anti-histone antibodies are associated with both drug-induced lupus and SLE
Because these antibodies are associated with other conditions, they are usually used to confirm a diagnosis, not make one.