AVISE CTD Lupus Test: Be More Certain About Diagnosis

Like many people with lupus symptoms, you may wonder, is it lupus, or could I have another autoimmune disorder? Finding an answer can be challenging because lupus causes symptoms similar to those of many other diseases, including other autoimmune diseases.1 The innovative AVISE® CTD lupus test can help your provider more accurately determine whether you have lupus so you can start treatment earlier.

Providers may use several blood tests to check for antibodies commonly found in lupus,2 but these tests miss a significant number of patients or result in too many false positives. AVISE CTD uses patented biomarkers—molecules associated with particular diseases3—and an algorithm to provide more actionable diagnostic information than other lab tests. Our lupus blood test can help your provider diagnose lupus with greater certainty and rule out other autoimmune disorders.


The Challenge of Diagnosing Lupus

Because no one test can provide definitive answers, providers use several sources of information to diagnose lupus. These include a physical exam, medical history, family history of autoimmune disease and blood tests.4 Together, these data points help your provider determine whether you have lupus and how best to treat you.2

Several methods of testing for lupus involve the measurement of antibodies made by your immune system that attack cells and tissues due to this condition. One of the most common forms of antibody testing for lupus is the antinuclear antibody, or ANA, test. This test measures the levels of ANAs, which are a group of antibodies that attaches to the nucleus of your cells. Almost all people with lupus have a positive ANA test, but this test result alone isn’t enough for a diagnosis because many other autoimmune conditions also result in the formation of ANAs—symptoms and other test results also factor in.4

Other blood tests for lupus include a complete blood count, anti-double stranded DNA, anti-Smith antibodies, complement components (C3 and C4) and tests to detect abnormal blood clotting.2, 4 Unfortunately, many antibody tests have significant gaps. Too often, they fail to detect lupus in people who have it, or they produce too many false positives, creating uncertainty for you and your physician. The AVISE CTD test for lupus can help fill gaps in testing.

How Our Lupus Test Works

AVISE CTD is transforming how providers diagnose lupus and other autoimmune diseases. How? Providers rely, in part, on autoimmune disease tests that detect and measure specific biomarkers associated with these diseases. AVISE CTD is the only diagnostic test that uses patented lupus biomarkers called Cell-Bound Complement Activation Products.

Lupus causes inflammation in various parts of the body.5 Researchers have learned that the body activates proteins called complement proteins in response to proteins and organisms, like viruses or other germs, that your immune system recognizes as a threat. In lupus, your immune system loses some of its ability to recognize the difference between your healthy cells and tissues and potentially harmful germs. As a result, your immune system, including the complement system, becomes overactive leading to inflammation and damage to health cells and tissues. The AVISE CTD test measures biomarkers of complement protein activation that are specific to lupus.

Those aren’t the only biomarkers featured in our lupus blood test. The AVISE CTD test also measures biomarkers associated with other autoimmune diseases with symptoms similar to lupus, including:

  • Anti-phospholipid syndrome (APS)
  • Autoimmune thyroid diseases (Hashimoto’s disease and Graves’ disease)
  • Mixed connective tissue disease (MCTD)
  • Polymyositis and dermatomyositis
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Scleroderma
  • Sjögren’s syndrome

An algorithm can help you and your provider better understand your likelihood of having lupus and rule out other autoimmune diseases. The AVISE CTD lupus test has consistently demonstrated greater sensitivity than other lupus tests in multiple published studies.6,7 Download our guide to learn more about how our test compares with other lupus testing options.

Who’s a Candidate for AVISE CTD Lupus Testing?

You may be a candidate for the AVISE CTD lupus test if you’ve had a positive ANA test or are experiencing lupus-like symptoms.

Our lupus blood test may also be right for you if you’ve tested negative on traditional lupus tests, but your provider suspects the disease based on symptoms. In addition, you may wish to take the AVISE CTD lupus test if you have an autoimmune disease and are concerned that you could be developing another.

How to Get the AVISE CTD Test

Follow these steps to start a conversation with your provider about the AVISE CTD lupus test:

  1. Make an appointment with your provider if you’re experiencing lupus-like symptoms.
  2. Complete our Lupus Symptoms Checklist and take it to your appointment.
  3. Discuss your symptoms with your provider, who will determine whether the AVISE CTD lupus test is appropriate for you.

What the AVISE CTD Test Entails

If your provider orders the AVISE CTD test, your doctor will provide two tubes of blood through a standard blood draw—that’s all we need. We’ll analyze your blood samples at Exagen’s laboratory and send the results to your provider’s office within five business days.

Your provider will receive a report detailing your likelihood of having lupus and help them rule out other autoimmune disorders. You and your provider will review the report together and make a plan based on the results.

How You Can Benefit From Our Lupus Blood Test

If your provider suspects lupus, the sooner you receive a diagnosis, studies show the better off you will be in the long term.8,9 Early diagnosis allows you to start treatment sooner, which can increase your chance of a better quality of life in the future and potentially reduce the need for more aggressive treatments and procedures down the road.1 Early diagnosis can lead to:

  • Fewer and less severe flare-ups
  • Less damage to your kidneys and other organs
  • Lower costs of care
  • Lower risk of hospitalization

The AVISE CTD lupus test can help you get the answers you’re looking for so you can get the care you need.
Ready to take the next step toward understanding the cause of your symptoms? Send your provider information about AVISE CTD lupus testing.

Next Steps
Last reviewed by an Exagen subject expert on 08/18/2022.


  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE). CDC.gov. Reviewed July 5, 2022. https://www.cdc.gov/lupus/facts/detailed.html#complications. Accessed July 25, 2022.
  2. Lupus Foundation of America. Lab Tests for Lupus. Lupus.org. Reviewed July 15, 2013. https://www.lupus.org/resources/lab-tests-for-lupus. Accessed July 25, 2022.
  3. National Institutes of Health. Biomarker. National Cancer Institute. Date unknown. https://www.cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-terms/def/biomarker. Accessed July 25, 2022.
  4. U.S. National Library of Medicine. Systemic Lupus Erythematosus. MedlinePlus. Updated September 30, 2021. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000435.htm. Accessed July 25, 2022.
  5. Lupus Foundation of America. What Is Lupus? Lupus.org. Updated October 21, 2020. https://www.lupus.org/resources/what-is-lupus. Accessed July 25, 2022.
  6. Ramsey-Goldman R, Alexander R, Massarotti, E, et al. Complement activation in patients with probable systemic lupus erythematosus and ability to predict progression to American College of Rheumatology—classified systemic lupus erythematosus. Arthritis Rheumatol. 2020;72(1):78-88. doi:10.1002/art.41093. Accessed August 10, 2022.
  7. Putterman C, Furie R, Ramsey-Goldman R, et al. Cell-bound complement activation products in systemic lupus erythematosus: Comparison with anti-double-stranded DNA and standard complement measurements. Lupus Sci Med. 2014;1(1):e000056. doi:10.1136/lupus-2014-000056. Accessed August 10, 2022.
  8. Kernder A, Richter JG, Fischer-Betz R, et al. Delayed diagnosis adversely affects outcome in systemic lupus erythematosus: Cross sectional analysis of the LuLa cohort. Lupus. 2021;30(3):431-438. doi:10.1177/0961203320983445. Accessed August 10, 2022.
  9. Bruce IN, O’Keeffe AG, Farewell V, et al. Factors associated with damage accrual in patients with systemic lupus erythematosus: Results from the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) Inception Cohort. Ann Rheum Dis. 2015;74(9):1706-1713. doi:10.1136/annrheumdis-2013-205171. Accessed August 10, 2022.