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Sjögren Antibody (Blood)

Does this test have other names?

SS-A (or Ro), SS-B (or La)  

What is this test?

This is a blood test for Sjögren syndrome. This condition is an autoimmune disease that makes it hard for your glands to make enough moisture. The condition causes discomfort by drying out mucous membranes, including the ones in the mouth, eyes, nose, lungs, and vagina. Sjögren may also affect the joints, kidneys, and the nervous, vascular, respiratory, and digestive systems.

To help diagnose the condition, healthcare providers use this blood test to check for Sjögren-related autoantibodies. These are substances in the blood that attack the body's tissues instead of foreign substances like bacteria.

Sjögren is a common problem. Women are affected more than men. Sjögren often happens along with other autoimmune disorders, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus. 

Why do I need this test?

You may need this test if you have abnormal liver tests or show symptoms of Sjögren syndrome. These include:

  • Dry eyes or corneal ulcers

  • Gritty sensation in the eyes

  • Feeling of dryness in the mouth and difficulty swallowing dry food

  • Heartburn and reflux

  • Arthritis

  • Muscle pain

  • Repeated bouts of bronchitis and pneumonia

  • Difficulty concentrating and "brain fog"

  • Numbness and tingling in the feet and toes

  • Dry skin

  • Sore tongue

  • Vaginal dryness 

What other tests might I have along with this test?

You may need other tests to help diagnose Sjögren. These include:

  • Schirmer test to measure eye dryness

  • Salivary flow study

  • Salivary scintigraphy

  • Salivary gland biopsy

You may also have other blood tests. These include those for other autoantibodies, antinuclear antibody, rheumatoid factor (RF), and erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR).

What do my test results mean?

Test results may vary depending on your age, gender, health history, the method used for the test, and other things. Your test results may not mean you have a problem. Ask your healthcare provider what your test results mean for you. 

A number of conditions can cause dryness of the eyes and mouth, but if you have certain antibodies in your blood, it means you may have Sjögren. These autoantibodies include:

  • SS-A, also called Ro

  • SS-B, also called La

  • Antinuclear antibody, or ANA

A normal test doesn't show any antibodies to Ro or La. But people with Sjögren don't always have these autoantibodies. 

How is this test done?

The test is done with a blood sample. A needle is used to draw blood from a vein in your arm or hand. 

Does this test pose any risks?

Having a blood test with a needle carries some risks. These include bleeding, infection, bruising, and feeling lightheaded. When the needle pricks your arm or hand, you may feel a slight sting or pain. Afterward, the site may be sore. 

What might affect my test results?

Other conditions can cause a positive test for Ro or La, including lupus and vasculitis.

How do I get ready for this test?

You don't need to prepare for this test. Be sure your healthcare provider knows about all medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are taking. This includes medicines that don't need a prescription and any illicit drugs you may use. 

Medical Reviewers:

  • Freeborn, Donna, PhD, CNM, FNP
  • Haldeman-Englert, Chad, MD