The dsDNA blood test is used after a test for ANA has come back positive and the individual in question is exhibiting some of the physical signs and symptoms of lupus. The dsDNA blood test is fairly specific for lupus itself, while the ANA test detects autoimmune disorders. 95% of the people who are eventually diagnosed with lupus will have a positive ANA test. Instead of the immune system, however, the dsDNA test targets genetic materials that are found in each nucleus that could damage tissues and organs.
It may be used for an initial diagnosis or it can be ordered for ongoing disease observation. Increase dsDNA results are often seen before a flare-up of lupus symptoms occurs. Those who have strong indicators of kidney damage or chronic inflammation are the most likely to have ongoing testing to observe disease progression.
When Is the dsDNA Blood Test Ordered?
The symptoms of lupus can be wide-ranging and non-specific to any individual. That’s why the presence of symptoms is accompanied by a series of tests, including the dsDNA blood test, to determine a definitive diagnosis. A low-grade fever, butterfly rash across the face, unusual muscle pain, and symptoms in the joints that are similar to arthritis are all common indications of the presence of lupus.
Hair loss, weight loss, tingling or numbers in the feet and/or hands, and a sensitivity to light may also be present. The dsDNA blood test may even be repeated to confirm a negative result if these signs and symptoms are present because of the critical nature of the testing outcome.
What Do My Test Results Mean?
The dsDNA blood test will either be positive or negative. If it is positive, then this means that there are autoantibodies present within the blood. This will be compared to the ANA blood test and another test that is designed to find Smith antibodies to determine the likelihood of lupus. If all three test results are positive, then a lupus diagnosis is almost certain.
Up to 30% of people who have lupus, however, will not have a positive dsDNA blood test. High levels of anti-dsDNA usually indicates that someone is suffering from chronic and potentially severe inflammation somewhere and that kidney damage may occur as a result. Other autoimmune disorders can produce similar results and positive dsDNA results, but generally in lower levels than in what is seen with lupus.
Here Is What You Need to Know
If the signs and symptoms of lupus are present, but someone has already been diagnosed with hepatitis, infectious mononucleosis, cirrhosis, or is taking certain medications, then the dsDNA blood test will not be accurate. It is generally not ordered if this is the case because the results are unreliable toward a lupus diagnosis.
If the ANA blood test comes back as negative, then the dsDNA blood test will not be ordered. A negative ANA test indicates that there isn’t an autoimmune disorder associated with that entire grouping of tests. If the ANA is negative, then the dsDNA blood test will also be negative.
It can sometimes take years to receive a lupus diagnosis because many of the physical symptoms of the disease can come and go. Many symptoms are also non-specific. Test results may initially be negative, but then slowly become positive because of how autoimmune disorders develop over time.
There is no cure for lupus. The complications of the disease and its symptoms can be managed, however, and most flare-ups tend to last for only a few days with medical treatment and symptoms tend to be mild and manageable.
Once a positive dsDNA blood test is received, all future tests will be positive. This autoantibody never goes away, even if the disease that caused the antibody does go away. Concentration levels in the blood will be lower without the presence of active disease, but still present. This is why the test is useful for monitoring lupus after the condition has been diagnosed.
Most people will never have the dsDNA blood test ordered for them. Only when a person’s symptoms suggest the presence of an autoimmune disorder will it be requested. If the test results are positive, then a medical provider will discuss available options based on an individual’s unique medical history. If the results are negative, but the ANA test results are positive, then an autoimmune disorder may still be present.
Use this guide to discuss a specific condition with your medical provider so you can get the answers you need about any symptoms you may be experiencing.