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The clinical significance of antinucleolar antibodies
  1. S Khan1,3,
  2. A Alvi2,
  3. S Holding3,
  4. M L Kemp1,
  5. D Raine3,
  6. P C Doré3,
  7. W A C Sewell4
  1. 1
    Path Links Immunology, Scunthorpe General Hospital, Scunthorpe, UK
  2. 2
    Department of Rheumatology, Diana Princess of Wales Hospital, Grimsby, UK
  3. 3
    Department of Immunology, Hull Royal Infirmary, Hull, UK
  4. 4
    Department of Biomedical Sciences, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, UK
  1. Dr S Khan, Path Links Immunology, Scunthorpe General Hospital, Scunthorpe DN15 7BH, UK; sujoykhan{at}


Background: The importance of antinucleolar antibodies seen by indirect immunofluorescence on HEp-2 cells, although associated with systemic sclerosis (SSc), in unselected patients is unknown.

Aims: To determine the true clinical significance of antinucleolar antibodies in an unselected patient population.

Methods: Antinucleolar antibody (ANoA) positive samples were identified in the immunology laboratory during routine autoimmune screening tests; case notes were reviewed using a standard proforma.

Results: 104 patients with ANoA were identified and ANoA+ samples were subclassified into homogeneous, clumpy and speckled antinucleolar types. SSc was evident in only two (1.8%) patients. Other connective tissue diseases were identified in 33 patients (32%); 22 patients (21%) had evidence of various malignancies. Both disordered liver function and anaemia were seen in 22 patients and were the commonest laboratory abnormalities.

Conclusions: Neither the presence nor subtype of ANoA is specific for systemic sclerosis. Laboratory comments appended to results should reflect this fact.

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  • Competing interests:None declared.

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