Anti-Microsomal Antibody AMA Test


Last Updated December 20th, 2021

What is the AMA or Anti-Microsomal Antibody?

The thyroid gland is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the neck that produces thyroid hormones. These hormones are critical to growth and metabolism. When the cells in the thyroid gland become damaged, owing to radiation or medication-side effect, the body produces thyroid antibodies. These are referred to as anti-microsomal antibodies. An elevated level of AMA would mean thyroid cell damage. It could also mean the presence of autoimmune disease(s).

What is the AMA test?

AMA or anti-microsomal antibody is a blood test that is used to measure the level of thyroid antibodies circulating in the bloodstream. Microsomes are found inside the thyroid cells. When these cells get damaged, the body produces antibodies in response to the microsome damage. An AMA test measures the level of this antibody activity and can help diagnose if an individual has thyroid dysfunction and/or an autoimmune condition.

How is the AMA test related to autoimmune diseases?

An autoimmune disease occurs when the body turns against its own cells and tissues and starts targeting them with immune responses. The body treats healthy cells as infected and begins to destroy them. This is the basis of autoimmunity. These immune responses are directed towards the microsomes present in the cells. Thus, if a person has an autoimmune condition such as SLE or rheumatoid arthritis, their body will have a higher level of these antibodies directed towards the microsomes. In other words, a higher AMA level can indicate autoimmune disease too, if not just a thyroid disorder.

What are the common autoimmune diseases reported in India?

It has been estimated that globally 10% of the general population suffers from some form of autoimmune disease. This is close to 700 million people. In India, the most common forms of autoimmune disease are rheumatoid arthritis ( in females) and ankylosing spondylitis ( in males).

Why has my doctor asked me to undergo an AMA test?

The following are the main indications associated with an AMA test

– If you have been showing signs of thyroid disorder (hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, etc)

– If you have Grave’s disease and are pregnant. This test can help identify the degree of severity of the disease and the potential risks to the fetus as a result of the same.

– AMA test is also commonly used to diagnose primary biliary cholangitis (an autoimmune disease that affects the bile ducts)

– If you have elevated levels of ALP enzyme (alkaline phosphate enzyme) that is indicative of liver/gall bladder damage.

What are the symptoms associated with high AMA activity?

Thyroid symptoms (hypothyroidism)
– Fatigue
– Cold sensitivity
– Muscle aches and cramps
– Unexplained weight gain
Depression and memory loss
– Hair loss

Thyroid symptoms (hyperthyroidism)
– Tremors and agitation
Reduced menstrual flow or absence of menses
– Heat intolerance
– Appetite and bowel frequency changes
– Brittle hair
– Profuse sweating

Autoimmune disease symptoms (general)
– Low-grade fever
– Aching muscles
Skin rashes
– Poor concentration
– Hair loss
– Swelling in limbs
– Bloating and diarrhea

What is the cost of the AMA test in India?

The cost of the AMA test in India can vary from Rs. 900 to Rs 1600, depending on the city and the healthcare facilities available.

What are the other names of the AMA test?

The AMA or Anti-microsomal Antibody test also goes by the name AMCA or Anti-mitochondrial Antibody Test and AMA-M2 test.

How is the AMA test performed?

The AMA test is a blood test and doesn’t take more than a few minutes

– The healthcare provider will collect the blood sample from the arm. For this, an elastic band or a tourniquet will be tied around your arm to increase the pressure within the veins.

– Once the vein has been located, a small amount of antiseptic solution will be rubbed on the surface.

– The healthcare provider will then insert a syringe at this site and draw blood. The blood will be collected in a vial.

– Once the blood has been drawn, the tourniquet will be removed and the site of puncture will be covered with a sterile bandage.

– You can go home once the blood sample has been collected. This sample will be sent to the lab for investigation.

Do I need to fast before an AMA test?

No, fasting is not required before undergoing an AMA test.

How do I prepare for an AMA test?

You must inform your healthcare provider the complete list of medications that you are on, including herbal (and non-herbal supplements). Fasting is not required for the test.

How to interpret the AMA test report?

The AMA test result is generally expressed in terms of a positive or negative result. A negative AMA result means that the microsomal antibody activity is well within the normal range. Or, in other words, the AMA level does not indicate thyroid or autoimmune disorder.

Positive AMA result means that there is high anti-microsomal antibody activity in the body. This most commonly points to primary biliary cirrhosis. But it could also indicate the onset of other autoimmune conditions such as lupus, rheumatoid arthritis, or even autoimmune hepatitis. Your doctor will prescribe further blood tests to accurately diagnose the condition.

When will I get my AMA blood test report?

It can take anywhere between a few days to one week for the AMA test results to be out.

Are there any risks associated with the AMA blood test?

This a relatively safe and risk-free procedure blood test. The minor side-effects a patient may encounter include:

– Excess bleeding and bruising at the site of needle insertion
– Slight lightheadedness or dizziness when the blood is being drawn
– Nausea

What is the normal reference range for the AMA blood test?

Reference range Interpretation
< = 20 unitsNegative AMA
20.1 – 24.9 unitsEquivocal

What does it mean if I have a positive AMA result?

As mentioned before, a positive AMA result means high anti-microsomal antibody activity. It means that you either have an autoimmune condition or a thyroid disorder. The following are the conditions associated with a positive AMA result:

Health Condition Meaning
Hashimoto’s thyroiditisSwollen thyroid gland
Grave’s diseaseOveractive thyroid gland
Subacute thyroiditisThyroid issues along with respiratory infection
Hemolytic anemiaDestruction of RBCs
Thyroid nodulesNodules formed on the thyroid gland
Sjogren’s syndromeTear and salivary ducts damaged
SLEAutoimmune disorder affecting multiple organs
Rheumatoid arthritisPainful swelling of joints
Thyroid cancerMalignancy in thyroid cells

What are the risks associated with a positive AMA result?

Women who have high anti-microsomal antibody activity carry a higher risk of
– Miscarriage
– High blood pressure during pregnancy or pre-eclampsia
– Preterm birth
– Low fertility and difficulty with IVF

Can an AMA test bear false results?

At times, the AMA test can show either a false positive or false-negative result. A false-positive result points to a temporary elevation in antibody level and does not actually mean that you suffer from an autoimmune disease or thyroid dysfunction. Similarly, false negative masks the actually elevated levels of antibodies. This may happen as a result of some drug interactions. It is thus important to tell your doctor what medications you are on prior to the test.

What steps are taken in case the blood sample reveals high AMA levels?

In order to accurately diagnose what is the cause behind elevated AMA levels, your doctor might prescribe further tests such as an ultrasound, a biopsy, or a radioactive iodine uptake test to narrow the options. These tests will create a clear picture of what exact disease you are suffering from.

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