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Asian Pac J Allergy Immunol. 2013 Dec;31(4):292-8. doi: 10.12932/AP0272.31.4.2013.

Sensitivity and specificity of ANA and anti-dsDNA in the diagnosis of systemic lupus erythematosus: a comparison using control sera obtained from healthy individuals and patients with multiple medical problems.

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Division of Rheumatology, Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Chiang Mai University, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand.



Antinuclear antibodies (ANA) and anti-double stranded DNA (anti-dsDNA) are often tested as a screening tool in patients with suspected systemic lupus erythematosus or connective tissue diseases. ANA can be seen in healthy controls (HC) and patients with multiple medical problems (MMP).


To determine the sensitivity and specificity of ANA and anti-dsDNA in SLE patients, using sera from HC and MMP patients.


Serum samples from HC, MMP and SLE patients, 100 in each group, were analyzed for the presence of ANA and anti-dsDNA, by indirect immunofluorescent assay, using a HEp-2 cell and Crithidia luciliae as substrates, respectively.


The prevalence of ANA at a titer of ≥1:80 and ≥ 1:160 was 8% and 4%, respectively, in HC; and it was 12% and 6% respectively, in MMP patients. The prevalence of anti-dsDNA was 0% in HC and 3% in MMP patients. When using HC sera for the diagnosis of SLE, the sensitivity of ANA at a titer of ≥ 1:80 and ≥ 1:160 was 98% and 90%, respectively, with specificity of 92% and 96%, respectively. The specificity decreased to 88% and 94%, respectively, when using sera from MMP patients. The specificity of anti-dsDNA was 100% and 97%, when using sera from HC and MMP patients, respectively.


ANA and anti-dsDNA gave high sensitivity and high specificity in patients with SLE, even when using MMP patient's sera as controls. Physicians should take care in interpreting ANA and anti-dsDNA results in MMP patients who do not have signs or symptoms of SLE or connective tissue diseases.

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