Autoantibodies are a characteristic feature of autoimmune rheumatic diseases. The term anti-nuclear antibodies(ANA) refers to a diverse group of autoantibodies directed against one or more components of the cell nucleus, including nucleic acids themselves and proteins concerned with processing of DNA or RNA. This immune dysregulation occurs in genetically predisposed individuals who are exposed to certain insults such as infection or other unknown trigger factors.
But mere presence of autoantibodies is not synonymous with autoimmune diseases as these can be observed in otherwise healthy individuals. Autoantibodies in the presence of characteristic clinical features helps in the diagnosis of autoimmune disease. In the absence of a gold standard for the diagnosis of rheumatological diseases, they are best used as part of a diagnostic panel rather than as a marker indicating one particular disease.