anti-mitochondrial antibody (amca) Test

Anti-Mitochondrial Antibody (AMCA)

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what is anti mitochondrial antibody amca test?

The human body produces antibodies in the blood, which are proteins, to fight again any foreign microorganisms that enter the body. Sometimes, the body begins to produce autoantibodies which work against its own tissues and good cells. Our body cells contain mitochondria that are responsible for producing energy and are critical for the normal functioning of the cells. These autoantibodies act against the mitochondria. By carrying out an antimitochondrial antibody test, it is possible to detect the presence of these autoantibodies and the auto-immune diseases that can be caused. This test is also known as the amca test and is highly effective in detecting an autoimmune condition called primary biliary cholangitis, also known as primary biliary cirrhosis.

when is the antimitochondrial antibody test suggested?

When the doctor notices the above mentioned antimitochondrial antibodies symptoms, he needs an AMCA test to confirm his diagnosis and begin the necessary treatment. The doctor usually asks for the antimitochondrial antibody test when he observes the following conditions:

• During routine testing, if liver function tests show any abnormality

• There are signs of damage to the liver like jaundice, abdominal pain, enlarged liver, tiredness or itching

• Weight loss

• Dryness in mouth and eyes

• In order to rule out or diagnose the presence of autoimmune disorder like primary biliary cirrhosis

• Swelling of the hands or feet

• Fluid buildup in the abdomen

However, the diagnosis needs to be backed up with a few other tests like Anti-nuclear antibodies (ANA) and Anti-smooth muscle antibodies (ASMA). While ANA test checks for levels of bilirubin, Albumin and C-reactive protein, the ASMA test is specifically carried out to diagnose autoimmune hepatitis.

how is the anti mitochondrial antibody test administered? are there any side effects of the test?

The following are the steps involved in this test for the collection of specimen (blood):

1. Sample needed: Blood

2. Process: The blood is drawn from a vein in the arm (near the elbow) by inserting a needle.

3. Pathology: The blood sample is then sent to the lab for a detailed analysis, post which the doctor will suggest the suitable antimitochondrial antibody treatment.

While there are no risks or side effects associated with the test, it is possible that the patient may experience slight discomfort while the sample is being collected. If the vein is not located easily, there could be multiple punctures. There are slight chances of infection or blood accumulation under the skin at times.

how to analyze amca test results?

When your AMCA test results are negative, they are considered to be within mitochondrial antibody normal range. When the test results are positive, it signifies that the bloodstream contains abnormal levels of antibodies and need further evaluation. The antibodies are just a part of the body’s autoimmune state. Generally, a positive AMCA test is connected to primary biliary cirrhosis; it could also indicate rheumatoid arthritis, autoimmune hepatitis, lupus, and thyroiditis. At times, a liver scans or a liver biopsy may also be needed to check for PBC (primary biliary cirrhosis) in the liver tissue and bile duct obstructions.

causes of pbc (primary biliary cirrhosis) ?

Although the causes of PBC are not known, it is suggested to be an autoimmune disease, in which the body’s immune systems attacks its own organs and cells. Certain environmental factors like being exposed to toxic chemicals, infection or smoking, could act as a trigger. Genetics could also play a part in its presence in one’s body.

Understanding results ofAnti-Mitochondrial Antibody (AMCA)

Reference RangeInterpretation
20.0 Units or less:Negative
20.1-24.9 Units: lEquivocal

‘*A Reference range is a set of values which helps the healthcare professional to interpret a medical test. It may vary with age, gender, and other factors. Reference ranges may also vary between labs, in value & units depending on instruments used and method of establishment of reference ranges’


The Anti-Mitochondrial Antibody AMCA Test proves to be a useful ally in confirming a doctor’s diagnosis and is effective in detecting the presence of AMCA in almost 90 to 95% of people.