An ANA test detects antinuclear antibodies in your blood. Your immune system normally makes antibodies to help you fight infection. In contrast, antinuclear antibodies often attack your body's own tissues — specifically targeting each cell's nucleus.

In most cases, a positive ANA test indicates that your immune system has launched a misdirected attack on your own tissue — in other words, an autoimmune reaction. But some people have positive ANA tests even when they're healthy.

Your doctor may order an ANA test if he or she suspects you have an autoimmune disease such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis or scleroderma.

Aug. 31, 2011