Clinical interpretation of antinuclear antibody tests in systemic rheumatic diseases

Mod Rheumatol. 2009;19(3):219-28. doi: 10.1007/s10165-009-0155-3. Epub 2009 Mar 10.


Autoantibody tests have been used extensively in diagnosis and follow-up of patients in rheumatology clinics. Immunofluorescent antinuclear antibody test using HEp-2 cells is still considered the gold standard for screening of autoantibodies, and most of specific autoantibodies are currently tested by ELISA as a next step. Among the many autoantibody specificities described, some have been established as clinically useful diagnostic markers and are included in the classification criteria of diseases. Despite a long history of routine tests and attempts to standardize such assays, there are still limitations and problems that clinicians need to be aware of. Clinicians should be able to use autoantibody tests more efficiently and effectively with a basic knowledge on the significance of and potential problems in autoantibody tests.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Antinuclear / blood*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Connective Tissue Diseases / diagnosis
  • Connective Tissue Diseases / immunology*
  • Humans


  • Antibodies, Antinuclear
  • Biomarkers