Also Known As
Thyroid autoantibodies
Anti-thyroid antibodies
Anti-microsomal antibody
Thyroid microsomal antibody
Thyroid peroxidase antibody
TPOAb
Anti-TPO
Thyroid binding inhibitory immunoglobulin TBII
Antithyroglobulin antibody
TgAb
TSH receptor antibody
TRAb
Thyroid stimulating immunoglobulin
TSI
Formal Name
Thyroid peroxidase antibody (TPOAb); Thyroglobulin antibody (TgAb); Thyroid stimulating hormone receptor antibody (TRAb)
This article was last reviewed on
This article waslast modified on
22 May 2018.
At a Glance
Why Get Tested?

To help diagnose and monitor autoimmune thyroid diseases and to distinguish these from other forms of thyroiditis, and thyroid disease; to help guide treatment decisions

When To Get Tested?

If you have an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre) and/or if your other thyroid function tests (such as Free T3, Free T4, and TSH) indicate thyroid dysfunction; if there are clinical features to suggest thyroid disease; in some patients with related autoimmune diseases

Sample Required?

A blood sample taken from a vein in your arm

Test Preparation Needed?

None

On average it takes 7 working days for the blood test results to come back from the hospital, depending on the exact tests requested. Some specialist test results may take longer, if samples have to be sent to a reference (specialist) laboratory. The X-ray & scan results may take longer. If you are registered to use the online services of your local practice, you will be able to access your results online.

If the doctor wants to see you about the result(s), you will be offered an appointment. If you are concerned about your test results, you will need to arrange an appointment with your doctor so that all relevant information including age, ethnicity, health history, signs and symptoms, laboratory and other procedures (radiology, endoscopy, etc.), can be considered.

Lab Tests Online-UK is an educational website designed to provide patients and carers with information on laboratory tests used in medical care. We are not a laboratory and are unable to comment on an individual's health and treatment.

Reference ranges are dependent on many factors, including patient age, gender, sample population, and test method, and numeric test results can have different meanings in different laboratories.

For these reasons, you will not find reference ranges for the majority of tests described on this web site. The lab report containing your test results should include the relevant reference range for your test(s). Please consult your doctor or the laboratory that performed the test(s) to obtain the reference range if you do not have the lab report.

For more information on reference ranges, please read Reference Ranges and What They Mean.

What is being tested?

These tests detect the presence and measure the quantity of specific thyroid autoantibodies in the blood. These autoantibodies develop when a person’s immune system mistakenly recognises components of the thyroid gland or thyroid proteins as foreign (non-self) and can lead to chronic inflammation of the thyroid (thyroiditis), tissue damage, and disruption of thyroid function. 

The thyroid is a small, butterfly-shaped gland that lies flat against the windpipe in the throat. The primary hormones that it produces (thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3)) are vital in helping to regulate the rate at which we use energy. The body has a feedback system that utilises thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) to help turn thyroid hormone production on and off and maintain a stable amount of the thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. When thyroid antibodies interfere with this process, it can lead to chronic conditions and disorders associated with hypothyroidism (not enough thyroid hormones) or hyperthyroidism (excessive amounts of thyroid hormones). Hypothyroidism can cause symptoms such as weight gain, fatigue, goitre (enlarged thyroid gland), dry skin, hair loss, intolerance to cold, and constipation. Hyperthyroidism can cause symptoms such as sweating, rapid heart rate, anxiety, tremors, fatigue, difficulty sleeping, sudden weight loss, and protruding eyes.

How is the sample collected for testing?

A blood sample is obtained after inserting a needle with syringe into a vein in the arm.

Is any test preparation needed to ensure the quality of the sample?

No test preparation is needed.

Accordion Title
Common Questions
  • How is it used?

    Thyroid antibody testing may be used to help investigate the cause of an enlarged thyroid gland (goitre) and/or performed as a follow-up when other thyroid test results (such as free T3, free T4, and/or TSH) show signs of thyroid dysfunction. Antibody testing is primarily requested to help diagnose an autoimmune thyroid disease and to separate it from other forms of thyroiditis and thyroid disease.

    Thyroid antibody tests may also be requested if a person with a known non-thyroid-related autoimmune condition, such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), rheumatoid arthritis, or pernicious anaemia, develops symptoms that suggest thyroid involvement. This involvement may occur at any time during the course of the other condition(s).

  • When is it requested?
    Thyroid Antibody Acronym Present in When ordered
    Thyroid peroxidase antibody/thyroid microsomal antibody TPOAb Autoimmune thyroid disease: Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (95%); primary myxoedema (90%); Graves’ disease (18%) When patient has symptoms or test results suggesting hypothyroidism; when a doctor is considering starting a patient on a drug therapy, such as lithium, amiodarone, interferon alpha, or interleukin-2, that has associated risks of developing hypothyroidism when TPOAb are present
    Thyroglobulin antibody TgAb Tested as part of monitoring of treatment for thyroid cancer.  Also present in autoimmune thyroid disease. Not as reliable as TPOAb in testing for autoimmune thyroid disease.  Thyroglobulin antibody together with thyroglobulin levels are used at regular intervals after thyroid cancer treatment.  The presence of thyroglobulin antibodies may interfere with the test for thyroglobulin which is also tested as a tumour marker.
    Thyroid stimulating hormone receptor antibody TRAb Graves’ disease When patient has symptoms of  hyperthyroidism; to monitor effectiveness of anti-thyroid therapy

    If a pregnant woman has a known autoimmune thyroid disease (such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis or Graves’ disease) or has another autoimmune disorder and thyroid involvement is suspected, then one or more of the thyroid antibodies may be requested early in the pregnancy and then again near the end. These tests are used to help the doctor determine whether the baby may be at risk of thyroid dysfunction since thyroid antibodies can cross the placenta and cause hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism in the foetus or newborn.

    Thyroid antibody testing may also be requested when a patient is being investigated for infertility.

  • What does the test result mean?

    Mild to moderately elevated levels of thyroid antibodies may be found in a variety of thyroid diseases.

    Thyroid cancer is a very rare tumour, and thyroid antibodies can sometimes be detected at low level.

    Significantly increased concentrations most frequently indicate thyroid autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, primary myxoedema, and Graves’ disease. In general, the higher the level, the more likely autoimmune thyroid disease is present. All of these antibodies, if present in the mother, can increase the risk of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism in the foetus or newborn.

    Thyroid antibodies can also be found in other autoimmune disorders, such Type 1 diabetes, pernicious anaemia, rheumatoid arthritis, and SLE.

    A certain percentage of patients who are healthy may be positive for one or more thyroid antibodies. The prevalence of thyroid antibodies tends to be higher in women and tends to increase with age. If a person with no apparent thyroid dysfunction has a thyroid antibody present, the doctor will track health over time, and monitor thyroid function tests (TSH, FT4 and sometimes FT3). While most may never experience thyroid dysfunction, a few patients may develop it in the future.

    Monitoring of thyroid cancer

    TgAb and thyroglobulin can be used in in the monitoring of certain types of thyroid cancer. TgAb can sometimes, for technical reasons, interfere with the test results for thyroglobulin, hence why they must be requested and interpreted together. If TgAb or thyroglobulin is being used as a monitoring tool and has stayed high or dropped low initially but is increasing over time, then it may be that the treatment has not been effective and the condition is continuing or recurring. If levels are falling and/or have fallen to low or undetectable levels, then it is more likely that the therapy has been effective.

  • Is there anything else I should know?

    There are a variety of different methods available for measuring thyroid antibodies, and different laboratories may use different methods, which may measure slightly different things. As a result of this, different laboratories may quote different reference ranges for resultsIf you are having serial testing done (for monitoring purposes), it is therefore important to have testing done by the same laboratory using the same method.

  • What can be done to prevent, reduce, or remove thyroid antibodies?

    There are a few lifestyle changes that can prevent or eliminate thyroid antibodies. It is important for patients and their doctors to be aware of them when they are present, so that appropriate clinical decisions can be made.

  • Are thyroid antibodies part of routine testing?

    No, they are usually only indicated when a patient has an enlarged thyroid or symptoms suggesting thyroid dysfunction. Routine screening of the thyroid is usually accomplished using thyroid tests such as TSH and free T4.