Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody test

anti-thyroglobulin antibody

What is the Anti Thyroglobulin antibody?

Thyroglobulin is a key protein that is essential for the production of the thyroid hormones thyroxine and triiodothyronine. The protein is generated by the thyroid gland and in the case of certain autoimmune conditions, the production of the protein gets affected. In the case of an autoimmune condition, the antibodies produced by the white blood cells attack the healthy cells of the body.

When the thyroglobulin proteins are attacked by the anti-thyroglobulin antibodies, the thyroid gland gets affected, resulting in various health disorders. Apart from analyzing symptoms related to the functioning of the thyroid gland, the anti-thyroglobulin antibody test is also used to diagnose goiter and other autoimmune diseases like Grave’s disease and Hashimoto thyroid.

How do these antibodies cause thyroid disorders?

These antibodies are also called antithyroid antibodies as they hinder the functioning of the thyroid. The thyroid controls the metabolic activities of the body and these disorders can speed up or slow down metabolic processes. This can result in a wide variety of symptoms which can range from a change in your energy levels, mood, weight and also in other important aspects of your health.

Sometimes it is hard to monitor these symptoms and in such cases, this test plays an important role in preserving the health of the thyroid. A healthy immune system would not make a lot of antibodies to fight thyroglobulin but this can happen in patients affected by thyroid cancer. The test is often used as a tumor marker, during the treatment of thyroid cancer and also to check for recurrence of cancer in the gland.

What is the Anti-Thyroglobulin Antibody test?

It is a blood test that measures the level of these antibodies in the bloodstream. In many cases, a large number of antibodies to thyroglobulin are often indicative of thyroid autoimmune disease but the doctor studies the case in relation to various other aspects for confirmation. Some people may have high levels of the antibody without any signs of an ailment.

Apart from the thyroglobulin antibody, other antibodies can also be generated in the thyroid gland. This includes the thyroid peroxidase antibody and the thyroid-stimulating hormone receptor antibodies. In many cases, all three are checked in a complete thyroid antibody test for a detailed analysis of disease.

Why do I need to undergo an Anti-Thyroglobulin antibody test?

The test is ordered by the doctors after checking the symptoms of the patient in relation to the abnormal functioning of the thyroid. The symptoms of a hyperactive thyroid gland are mentioned under.

– A feeling of weakness and tiredness along with muscle fatigue
– Trembling hands and fingers
– Sudden weight loss
– Feeling anxious, nervous, or irritable
– Heavy sweating
– A fast or irregular heartbeat
– Developing a low tolerance for heat.
– Difficulty in sleeping.

In case the thyroid gland is underactive, the following symptoms are noticed.

– Various digestive problems, including constipation
– Problems related to menstruation
– A general sense of tiredness and a lack of energy
– Development of dry hair and skin accompanied by hair loss. Nails can also become brittle at times.
– A frequent sensation of being cold
– Sudden weight gain
– Feelings of depression and forgetfulness

The test is also used when abnormal levels of the thyroid hormones are detected and in case another autoimmune disease like Grave’s disease and Hashimoto thyroiditis is suspected. In case a pregnant woman has a known autoimmune thyroid disease, the test is used to determine the risk of any thyroid malfunctions for the baby.

It is also used when a woman is facing reproductive difficulties that may be related to a thyroid malfunction. In many cases where the thyroid is surgically removed due to cancer, the antibody test is used to measure cancerous residues.

How is an Anti-Thyroglobulin antibody test performed?

The test is a normal blood test where the required volume of blood is collected from a vein through the process of venepuncture. No prior preparation is needed for the test and it involves the following steps.

– The technician will tie an elastic band around the upper arm to make the vein swell with blood, thus making the collection process easier.

– The vein chosen for collection is generally around the elbow region and the area where the needle will be inserted is disinfected by a solution.

– A sterile needle is inserted into the vein and the required volume of blood is drawn through it in an attached tube. A slight stinging sensation or pain is felt when the needle is inserted.

– The elastic band is removed and the needle is withdrawn from the vein. The pressure is applied to the site through a gauze or a cotton role to prevent any excess bleeding. The spot is then covered with a sterile bandage and the sample is sent to the laboratory for testing.

– The process usually takes a few minutes and can result in mild bruising around the collection site which usually disappears within a few days.

In some cases, the procedure can result in some problems like fainting or feeling lightheaded, the formation of a hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin forming a lump) or an infection. For some individuals, finding the right vein can be problematic and multiple punctures are often necessary.

What is the price for an anti-Thyroglobulin antibody test in India? 

The cost of the anti-thyroglobulin antibody test in India can range from Rs 300 to Rs 1500 depending on the center and the facilities that are used.

When will I get the test results?

The test results are generally provided within 24 hours but some laboratories may take longer.

What is the normal range for an Anti-Thyroglobulin antibody test?

The levels of the antibody are generally measured in International Units per Litre. In any healthy individual, the levels of the thyroglobulin antibodies should be less than 20 IU/mL. When the levels are higher than that, it means that there is a high chance that the antibodies are attacking the thyroid gland.

When the result is negative, it indicates that the level is normal.  But the test has various methodologies and the normal ranges may vary. The test results should always be analyzed by a qualified medical professional to understand its significance.

What do the results indicate?

A positive test result can be dues to any of the following diseases.

– Graves disease or overactive thyroid
– Hashimoto thyroiditis
– Subacute thyroiditis
– Underactive thyroid
Systemic lupus erythematosus

A certain percentage of people who have autoimmune thyroid disease do not have autoantibodies in their blood. The doctor can order a repeat test at a later date for further analysis. Mild to moderate levels of the antibody can indicate thyroid cancer, type 1 diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, pernicious anemia or autoimmune collagen vascular diseases. For a pregnant woman, elevated levels can increase the risk of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism in the developing baby or new-born.

For patients affected by thyroid cancer, if the levels remain high or drop low initially but increase over time, it indicates that the treatment is not being effective. For individuals who have no apparent thyroid dysfunction but a higher level of antibodies, the problems may develop at a later date. In such cases, the doctor may order further tests in the future to keep track of their health.

Do I need to fast for the Anti-Thyroglobulin antibody test?

Generally, fasting is not needed for this test but the doctor can give such instructions, depending on the specific situation.

What else do I need to know before I appear for an anti Thyroglobulin antibody test?


Here are a few additional points that will help you to develop further knowledge about the test.

– The test results can vary from one laboratory to the other. So if a series of tests are being done at regular intervals for monitoring purposes, it is best to get them done through the same laboratory.

– Since the thyroglobulin antibodies target thyroglobulin, their presence can interfere with the results of a thyroglobulin test.

– So if antibodies are present, either the test cannot be conducted or some other test that is free from the influence of the antibodies needs to be done.

– High levels of the antibody do not necessarily indicate the presence of thyroid cancer. It may be because of a variety of factors that the doctor can assess and arrive at the right conclusion.

Before the test, it is important that you discuss with the doctor about all the medicines, herbs, vitamins, and supplements you are consuming. Some substances may impact the results of the test.

Can pregnant women undergo an anti Thyroglobulin antibody test?

Pregnant women can undergo this test without any restrictions.

Is the Anti-Thyroglobulin antibody test possible for new-born babies?

The test can also be conducted over new-borns as advised by the doctor.

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