Ankylosing Spondylitis - Stand Strong Sculpture Art

HLA-B27 and Ankylosing Spondylitis


Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS) – which is a severe form of arthritis – can be a very painful and stressful condition to deal with.  Unfortunately, the cause of this condition is unknown.  Studies have shown however that it could be a condition inherited through genetics, and more commonly found in people who have the HLA-B27 gene – which is commonly found in 8% of the Caucasian population.

The presence of ankylosing spondylitis may not be noticeable in early stages, however as the condition advances or gets worse, there are methods available for accurate diagnosis. Blood tests can be performed to find out if there is any inflammation present in the blood – which could indicate the possibility of ankylosing spondylitis, but this form of blood of testing isn’t effective as others, as there could be other reasons why inflammation has occurred.

Another way the blood is tested in order to reach a diagnosis of ankylosing spondylitis is by having the blood checked for the HLA-B27 gene. It’s reported that not more than 2% of people born with the HLA-B27 gene will eventually develop ankylosing spondylitis. This is the most common method of diagnosing ankylosing spondylitis through lab testing and blood work.

Other tests that can be performed to diagnose ankylosing spondylitis are having an MRI completed, an x-ray, or a CT scan. Doctors will likely perform these tests and compare the results to look for any changes in bones and joints that may indicate the presence of ankylosing spondylitis.

There is no known cure for ankylosing spondylitis, however proper diagnosis can help a person suffering from this condition to be aware of the problem, and take the necessary therapies and medication to treat the pain caused by it.

What is HLA-B27?

HLA’s or Human Antigen Leukocytes are proteins found on the surface of white blood cells. The B27 refers to a particular protein that helps white blood cells determine the good cells from the harmful agents in the body. A test for this antigen determines whether or not the protein is present. Whether or not this test is needed is determined by the symptoms of the individual.

Why would a HLA-B27 test be given?

You would be given the HLA-B27 test if you have symptoms of frequent joint pain or inflammation. If you were to test positive for HLA-B27, your symptoms may most likely be caused by an autoimmune disease disorder such as Rheumatoid Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis, or joint inflammation sometimes caused by Crohn’s Disease. You may also be given this test if you are receiving or donating a tissue or bone marrow transplant to ensure compatibility between the donor and recipient.

What does the HLA-B27 test mean?

A negative HLA-B27 test means you do not carry the antigen and further tests would be needed if you are experiencing joint pain or inflammation. A positive HLA-B27 test means that although you are much more likely to have an autoimmune disorder, you may not have any disease since a small amount of persons carry the protein but not have signs of disorder. Again, further testing would be needed to determine whether or not you actually are experiencing symptoms of any disorder. Further testing such as Rheumatoid factor, x-rays, and C – reactive protein tests would possibly be needed in a diagnosis.

HLA-B27 Conclusion

The HLA-B27 test is simply a blood draw to see whether or not you carry the particular protein that causes white blood cells to attack the body, particularly in the joints. It is not a diagnosis of any disease although it can help a medical practitioner make a diagnosis if you are experiencing other symptoms.