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Autoimmune liver disease panel

An autoimmune liver disease panel is a group of tests that is done to check for autoimmune liver disease. An autoimmune liver disease means that the body's immune system attacks the liver.

These tests include:

  • Anti-liver/kidney microsomal antibodies
  • Anti-mitochondrial antibodies
  • Anti-nuclear antibodies
  • Anti-smooth muscle antibodies

The panel may also include other tests. Often, immune protein levels in the blood are also checked.

How the Test is Performed

A blood sample is taken from a vein.

The blood sample is sent to the lab for testing.

How to Prepare for the Test

You do not need to take special steps before this test.

How the Test will Feel

You may feel slight pain or a sting when the needle is inserted to draw blood. Afterward, there may be some throbbing.

Why the Test is Performed

Autoimmune disorders are a possible cause of liver disease. The most common of these diseases are autoimmune hepatitis and primary biliary cirrhosis.

This group of tests helps your health care provider diagnose liver disease.

Normal Results

Protein levels:

The normal range for protein levels in the blood will change with each laboratory. Please check with your health care provider for the normal ranges in your particular laboratory.

Antibodies:

Negative results on all antibodies are normal.

Note: Normal value ranges may vary slightly among different laboratories. Talk to your doctor about the meaning of your specific test results.

The examples above show the common measurements for results for these tests. Some laboratories use different measurements or may test different specimens.

What Abnormal Results Mean

Blood tests for autoimmune diseases are not wholly accurate. They can have false negative results (you have the disease, but the test is negative) and false positive results (you do not have the disease, but the test is positive).

A weakly positive or low titer positive test for autoimmune disease is often not due to any disease.

A positive test on the panel may be a sign of autoimmune hepatitis or other autoimmune liver disease.

If the test is positive mostly for anti-mitochondrial antibodies, you are likely to have primary biliary cirrhosis.

If the immune proteins are high and albumin is low, you may have liver cirrhosis or chronic active hepatitis.

Risks

Veins and arteries vary in size so it may be harder to get a blood sample from one person than another.

Other slight risks from having blood drawn but may include:

  • Excessive bleeding
  • Fainting or feeling light-headed
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)
  • Infection (a slight risk any time the skin is broken)

Alternative Names

Liver disease test panel - autoimmune

References

Angulo P, Lindor KD. Primary biliary cirrhosis. In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 89.

Czaia AJ. Autoimmune hepatitis. In: In: Feldman M, Friedman LS, Brandt LJ, eds. Sleisenger and Fordtran's Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2010:chap 88.

Pawlotsky JM, Mchutchinson J. Chronic viral and autoimmune hepatitis. In: Goldman L, Schafer AI, eds. Cecil Medicine. 24th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2011:chap 151.

Update Date: 1/22/2013

Updated by: George F. Longstreth, MD, Department of Gastroenterology, Kaiser Permanente Medical Care Program, San Diego, California. Also reviewed by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions, Ebix, Inc., Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, Stephanie Slon, and Nissi Wang.

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