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Home > Blog > HLA-B27 Test: Overview, Procedure and Result

HLA-B27 Test: Overview, Procedure and Result

HLA-B27 Test: Overview, Procedure and Result

Max Lab

Jan 05, 2024

HLA-B27, also known as Human Leukocyte Antigen B27, is a protein found on the surface of white blood cells and is crucial for the immune system's identification of potential threats. The HLA-B27 test is a blood test that determines if one has a protein called HLA-B27 on the surface of the white blood cells. The HLA-B27 test examines blood samples to detect the presence of this antigen, aiding in the diagnosis of conditions like juvenile rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune hepatitis, ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis type II, lupus erythematosus, or Crohn's disease.

What is the Procedure of the HLA-B27 Test?

The HLA-B27 test is performed like a routine blood test; healthcare professionals draw a small amount of blood, and no special preparation is necessary. The blood is analyzed in a medical laboratory to detect the presence or absence of this antigen on white blood cells. Potential outcomes include mild discomfort, soreness, swelling at the injection site, or lightheadedness. The duration of the test varies based on the technology employed, such as Flow Cytometry, or Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

Types of HLA-B27 Tests

There are two types of HLA B27 test:

  1. Flow Cytometry: This is the most common method for HLA-B27 testing. It uses an antibody staining technique called flow cytometry to detect the HLA-B27 antigen on the surface of white blood cells in a blood sample. It provides quick, precise and reliable results.
  2. PCR-based Testing: This test uses the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique to identify the DNA that encodes for producing the HLA-B27 protein. A blood sample is obtained and then the DNA is extracted from the white blood cells and amplified using PCR. The DNA is then analyzed to detect the presence or absence of the HLA-B27 coding gene. It is a more expensive test but very sensitive.

Symptoms of HLA-B27

 The doctor may prescribe the HLA-B27 test if one has the following symptoms: -

  • Chronic joint pain (Synovitis)
  • Inflammation in eyes (Acute Anterior Uveitis)
  • Stiffness & swelling
  • Inflammation in neck & chest
  • Lower back inflammation

Common Illnesses Due to HLA-B27

Here are some of the common illnesses associated with the HLA-B27 gene:

  • Ankylosing Spondylitis: This is the most prevalent illness linked to HLA-B27. It causes inflammation of the spine and sacroiliac joints leading to chronic pain and stiffness.
  • Reactive Arthritis: This involves painful inflammation of joints, eyes, and urinary tract following certain infections. A significant association exists between HLA-B27 and reactive arthritis.
  • Acute Anterior Uveitis: This inflammatory eye disease causes redness, pain, and blurred vision. A considerable number of cases are positive for HLA-B27.
  • Psoriatic Arthritis: This type of arthritis affects people with psoriasis skin conditions. Many affected people test positive for the HLA-B27 marker.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Diseases: HLA-B27 is found elevated among patients with ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.
  • Spondyloarthritis: This refers to a group of inflammatory joint diseases that share common symptoms with the above illnesses. HLA-B27 is linked to various spondyloarthropathies.

Why is the HLA-B27 Test recommended?

The HLA-B27 test is frequently recommended by doctors to help detect and diagnose certain autoimmune diseases, particularly ankylosing spondylitis. It may be advised if a doctor suspects this specific inflammatory arthritis based on symptoms like neck stiffness, back pain, chest tightness, etc. Individuals with a family history of ankylosing spondylitis may also benefit from HLA-B27 screening.

HLA-B27 Test Results

Results are reported as either positive or negative for the presence of HLA-B27 antigen.

Positive Result:

  • HLA-B27 positive means the person has the HLA-B27 gene which produces this antigen.
  • Signifies a much higher lifetime risk for developing HLA-B27 associated spondyloarthritis diseases like ankylosing spondylitis, reactive arthritis etc.

However, a positive result alone does not confirm the diagnosis of any disease. Other clinical criteria are also considered.

Negative Result:

  • Meaning of HLA-B27 negative is absence of HLA-B27 antigen.
  • Lowers, but does not eliminate, the probability of having related illnesses.

However, some patients may still develop the conditions though HLA-B27 status is negative. It is not completely exclusionary.

HLA-B27 test results should always be interpreted along with clinical symptoms, medical history, and other diagnostic tests. If the test result is positive with relevant symptoms, it may assist healthcare professionals in diagnosing and managing certain autoimmune disorders. It is important to discuss the implications of HLA-B27 test results with a healthcare provider for better understanding.

If one is experiencing similar symptoms or has been advised by a doctor to undergo the HLA-B27 test, book a test at Max Lab. The HLA-B27 test price varies from lab to lab. When selecting a laboratory for any diagnostic test, consider factors like patient safety, care, and the professional conduct of the staff.

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