Skip to main navigation Skip to main content Skip to footer For Medicare For Providers For Brokers For Employers Español For Individuals & Families: For Individuals & Families Medical Dental Other Supplemental Explore coverage through work How to Buy Health Insurance Types of Dental Insurance Open Enrollment vs. Special Enrollment See all topics Shop for Medicare plans Member Guide Find a Doctor Log in to myCigna
Home Knowledge Center Wellness Library Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) Test

Antinuclear Antibodies (ANA) Test

Test Overview

An antinuclear antibody (ANA) test measures the amount and pattern of antibodies in your blood that work against your own body (autoimmune reaction).

The body's immune system normally attacks and destroys foreign substances such as bacteria and viruses. But in disorders known as autoimmune diseases, the immune system attacks and destroys the body's normal tissues. When a person has an autoimmune disease, the immune system produces antibodies that attach to the body's own cells as though they were foreign substances, often causing them to be damaged or destroyed. Rheumatoid arthritis and systemic lupus erythematosus are examples of autoimmune diseases.

An ANA test is used along with your symptoms, physical examination, and other tests to find an autoimmune disease.

Why It Is Done

Why It Is Done

An ANA test is done to help identify problems with the immune system, such as:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Lupus.
  • Polymyositis.
  • Scleroderma.
  • Sjögren's syndrome.
How To Prepare

How To Prepare

In general, there's nothing you have to do before this test, unless your doctor tells you to.

How It Is Done

How It Is Done

A health professional uses a needle to take a blood sample, usually from the arm.

How long the test takes

The test will take several minutes.

How It Feels

How It Feels

When a blood sample is taken, you may feel nothing at all from the needle. Or you might feel a quick sting or pinch.

Risks

Risks

There is very little chance of having a problem from this test. When a blood sample is taken, a small bruise may form at the site.

Results

Results

If there are more antibodies in the blood than normal, the test is positive. When the test is positive, most labs do other tests right away to look for the cause. These tests can find out which antibodies are in the blood in higher amounts than normal.

Sometimes ANA test results can be positive when a person is healthy. Though the test is positive, the level of antibodies is usually low.

Some healthy people can have an increased amount of ANA in their blood. For instance, this can happen in some people with a family history of autoimmune disease. ANA levels can also increase as a person ages.

Autoimmune diseases can't be diagnosed by the results of the ANA test alone. Other tests are needed to help identify diseases such as lupus or rheumatoid arthritis.

Positive test

A positive ANA test may be caused by:

  • Autoimmune connective tissue diseases. Examples include:
    • Rheumatoid arthritis. More than one-third of people with rheumatoid arthritis have a positive ANA test.
    • Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Almost all people with SLE have a positive ANA test. But most people with a positive ANA test don't have SLE.
    • Scleroderma.
    • Sjögren's syndrome.
    • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis.
    • Polymyositis.
    • Raynaud's syndrome.
  • Autoimmune diseases of other organs. Examples include:
    • Addison's disease.
    • Diseases of the blood cells, such as vitamin B12 deficiency, immune thrombocytopenia (ITP), and hemolytic anemia.
    • Liver disease, such as hepatitis.
    • Thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
  • Medicines, such as those used to treat high blood pressure, heart disease, and tuberculosis (TB).
  • Viral infections.

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2022 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Related Links

Medical Tests: Questions to Ask the Doctor

<cipublic-spinner variant="large"><span>Loading…</span></cipublic-spinner>

Page Footer

I want to...

Get an ID card File a claim View my claims and EOBs Check coverage under my plan See prescription drug list Find an in-network doctor, dentist, or facility Find a form Find 1095-B tax form information View the Cigna Glossary Contact Cigna

Audiences

Individuals and Families Medicare Employers Brokers Providers

Secure Member Sites

myCigna member portal Health Care Provider portal Cigna for Employers Client Resource Portal Cigna for Brokers

Cigna Company Information

About Cigna Company Profile Careers Newsroom Investors Suppliers Third Party Administrators International Evernorth

 Cigna. All rights reserved.

Privacy Legal Product Disclosures Cigna Company Names Customer Rights Accessibility Non-Discrimination Notice [PDF] Language Assistance [PDF] Report Fraud Sitemap

Disclaimer

Individual and family medical and dental insurance plans are insured by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (CHLIC), Cigna HealthCare of Arizona, Inc., Cigna HealthCare of Illinois, Inc., and Cigna HealthCare of North Carolina, Inc. Group health insurance and health benefit plans are insured or administered by CHLIC, Connecticut General Life Insurance Company (CGLIC), or their affiliates (see a listing of the legal entities  that insure or administer group HMO, dental HMO, and other products or services in your state). Accidental Injury, Critical Illness, and Hospital Care plans or insurance policies are distributed exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, are administered by Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, and are insured by either (i) Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company (Bloomfield, CT); (ii) Life Insurance Company of North America (“LINA”) (Philadelphia, PA); or (iii) New York Life Group Insurance Company of NY (“NYLGICNY”) (New York, NY), formerly known as Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. The Cigna name, logo, and other Cigna marks are owned by Cigna Intellectual Property, Inc. LINA and NYLGICNY are not affiliates of Cigna.

All insurance policies and group benefit plans contain exclusions and limitations. For availability, costs and complete details of coverage, contact a licensed agent or Cigna sales representative. This website is not intended for residents of New Mexico.

Selecting these links will take you away from Cigna.com to another website, which may be a non-Cigna website. Cigna may not control the content or links of non-Cigna websites. Details