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UK NEQAS Haematology pilot scheme: Reticulocyte haemoglobin content quantitation

Int J Lab Hematol. 2022 Sep 3. doi: 10.1111/ijlh.13957. Online ahead of print.


INTRODUCTION: Established parameters for the investigation of suspected iron deficiency have recognized limitations that affect their sensitivity and specificity. Reticulocyte haemoglobin content (RHC) is an early biomarker of iron deficiency or restriction, which also demonstrates response to iron therapy. RHC parameters are offered on all major automated haematology analysers. There is no external quality assessment (EQA) for RHC in the UK, restricting its wider clinical application. The UK National External Quality Assessment Scheme (UKNEQAS) for Haematology has completed a pilot study on the use of stabilized blood for RHC EQA.

METHODS: Blood was obtained from two JAK2 V617F mutation-positive, polycythaemia vera patients undergoing regular venesection, and from a healthy volunteer donor. Aliquots of each donation were distributed to users of Abbott, Horiba, Siemens and Sysmex automated analysers for RHC analysis on days 1, 3, 5 and 7.

RESULTS: Results were received from 20 laboratories using four different platforms. The daily mean and standard deviation (SD) were calculated for each aliquot, by day of analysis and platform. With RHC there was no significant within-platform difference (p > 0.5) between testing days, although there were statistically significant differences (p < 0.001) between different platforms. The greatest difference was seen between Abbott MCHr and Horiba RhCc (-6.14 ± 1.25 pg). Despite inter-platform differences, it was possible to define iron deficient, borderline, and normal cut-offs to classify 95% of results correctly.

CONCLUSIONS: The results demonstrate that it is possible to provide RHC EQA material using UKNEQAS standard procedures. The results are clinically relevant but indicate a requirement for inter-user comparison.

PMID:36056688 | DOI:10.1111/ijlh.13957

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