Chromatin antibody: Make sure you know your labs [Updated]

Know your labs when you have lupus

Anti-chromatin antibodies attach to chromatin in lupus patients

Chromatin is our DNA packaged up nice and neat with other proteins such as histone and RNA. It protects our DNA. Photo: at from the NIH
Chromatin Antibody (Also called Anti-Chromatin Antibody; anti-chromatin antibody, chromatin nucleosomal antibody; nucleosome antibody).

Bottom lines:
– Elevated anti-chromatin antibodies are fairly specific for people who have lupus, but can occasionally be seen in other autoimmune disorders. They are related to anti-dsDNA antibodies.

–  They are rare in healthy people
– They may possibly increase the risk of having lupus kidney inflammation (lupus nephritis), however, having them does not mean you will get nephritis. Just make sure to have a urine sample checked regularly
– In some people, they can fluctuate with disease activity and help monitor how someone with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is responding to therapy. 

I recommend that all patients get copies of their labs so they can understand more about their lupus. If you are chromatin antibody positive, then read this article to learn more.

What are anti-chromatin antibodies and what do they mean?

Chromatin refers to the complex of DNA and other proteins that form chromosomes inside the nuclei of cells. About 60% to 70% of people who have SLE are positive for these antibodies, and they appear more commonly in SLE than in other systemic autoimmune diseases. Initial studies suggested that patients with SLE who are positive for chromatin antibody may have an increased risk for developing inflammation of the kidneys (lupus nephritis); however, this has been questioned in subsequent studies.

​Sometimes it can be difficult to tell if a patient may have SLE or Sjögren’s when they first come to a rheumatologist. One study showed that if that patient is positive for chromatin antibody and negative for SSA antibody, they most likely have SLE as their diagnosis. In some people with SLE, chromatin antibodies fluctuate with disease activity, decreasing in value when there is better control of lupus and increasing when it is worse. Chromatin antibodies can also occur in other systemic autoimmune diseases, including drug-induced lupus, mixed connective tissue disease, and scleroderma.


Don Thomas, MD, author of “The Lupus Encyclopedia” and “The Lupus Secrets


– The above excerpt comes from “The Lupus Encyclopedia” prior to printing of the second edition
– Mehra, S., & Fritzler, M. J. (2014). The spectrum of anti-chromatin/nucleosome autoantibodies: independent and interdependent biomarkers of disease. Journal of immunology research, 2014, 368274.

The Anti-SSA Test (also called anti-Ro): Know Your Lupus Labs

What is the anti-SSA test?

Anti-SSA (anti-Ro) in a lupus patient

What the lab technician sees under the microscope when testing a patient for anti-SSA antibodies. These are human epithelial cells to which blood was added from a patient who has anti-SSA antibodies, proving that that person is positive for anti-SSA. Photo credit below
Know your labs, such as the anti-SSA test when you have lupus!
The anti-SSA test is also called SSA antibody I recommend that all lupus patients get copies of their labs every time they are done. Look up any abnormal results from a reliable source to know what they mean. If you cannot find a reliable source, then ask your doctor.

Remember… Knowledge is Power!

So, let’s talk about anti-SSA (also called anti-Ro).

Read more

Improve Your Life: A Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Flare Test

Purple ribbon symbol for a systemic lupus erythematosus flare
A systemic lupus erythematosus flare can be predicted by new lab test: aiSLE DX test

Revolutionary New Lab Test: Predicts if a lupus patient will have a systemic lupus erythematosus flare!

A systemic lupus erythematosus flare can be devastating, interfere with quality of life, and can even cause organ damage. Imagine if they can be predicted ahead of time and then the patient be able to make appropriate actions to decrease the risk of that flare from happening? The future is now!

This lab test is called the aiSLE DX test by Progentec. It can predict if someone with systemic lupus erythematosus is at increased risk of having a flare during the next 3 months. If this were known, then the doctor and patient could ensure that everything possible is being done to control disease activity (not missing doses of medicines, using sunscreen religiously, eating an anti-inflammatory diet, exercising, getting at least 8 hours of sleep every night, etc.)

There are things that people can do to decrease them from occurring. For example, put into practice as much as you can from my “Lupus Secrets.”
There are things we can do to get them under control when they do occur.

The YouTube video below is the perspective of two rheumatologists who treat lots of lupus patients. They also hint about new lab tests that are just around the corner that can help predict lupus flares before they even happen. The immune system of lupus patients becomes more active before the person knows that a flare is going on.

Also, make sure to click on the Lupus Foundation’s Flare Plan site and download their flare plan as a practical way to monitor and report flares to your physician. Have a plan in place before you flare.

Comment below about how you prevent lupus flares.
What symptoms do you have during a flare? These often include fatigue, joint pains, pleurisy chest pain, mouth sores, hair loss, sun induced rashes, nose sores, and joint stiffness and swelling.
What have you found to be effective in getting your flares under control?
If you have had SLE for a long time, what do you wish you would have done differently after first diagnosed to help prevent flares?

​- Don Thomas, MD