LE – Cell phenomenon


In the LE cell, nuclei are phagocytosed by mature polymorphonuclear leucocytes and digested. The LE cell was so termed because of its exclusive presence in the bone marrow of patients with confirmed or suspected systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). The formation of LE cells was found to be secondary to a factor in the plasma of patients with SLE. For a while, the LE cell phenomenon was the most specific test available for the diagnosis of SLE, and it supported the autoimmune theory for its pathogenesis. It is now known that the autoantibodies that lead to the LE cell phenomenon bind histones. Nowadays, more informative and sensitive tests including antinuclear antibodies, extractable nuclear antigen antibodies and complement levels, which are used in the diagnosis and management of SLE.


The LE cell preparation remains in the American College of Rheumatology’s criteria for the classification of SLE.

Sample Type, Quantity & Conditions

3 ml Whole Blood Room Temperature

Special Precautions

Ideally replaced by ANA

Normal Range

Negative for LE Cells

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