Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
We normally have antibodies in our blood that repel invaders into our body,
such as virus and bacteria microbes. Antinuclear antibodies (ANAs) are unusual
antibodies, detectable in the blood, that have the capability of binding to
certain structures within the nucleus of the cells. The nucleus is the innermost
core within the body's cells and contains the DNA, the primary genetic material. ANAs
are found in patients whose immune system may be predisposed to cause
inflammation against their own body tissues. Antibodies that are directed
against one's own tissues are referred to as auto-antibodies. The propensity for
the immune system to work against its own body is referred to as autoimmunity.
ANAs indicate the possible presence of autoimmunity and provide, therefore, an
indication for doctors to consider the possibility of autoimmune illness.
How is the ANA test designed? What is it for?
The ANA test was designed by Dr. George Friou in 1957. The ANA test is
performed using a blood sample. The antibodies in the serum of the
blood are exposed in the laboratory to cells. It is then determined
whether or not antibodies are present that react to various parts of
the nucleus of cells. Thus, the term anti-"nuclear" antibody. Fluorescence techniques are frequently used to
actually detect the antibodies in the cells, thus ANA testing is
sometimes referred to as fluorescent
antinuclear antibody test (FANA). The ANA test is a sensitive screening test
used to detect autoimmune diseases.