Hb variants in Korea: effect on HbA1c using five routine methods

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Background:Quantification of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) is a challenge in patients with hemoglobin (Hb) variants. We evaluated the impact of various Hb variants on five routine HbA1c assays by comparing with the IFCC reference measurement procedure (RMP).Methods:Whole blood samples showing warning flags or no results on routine HPLC HbA1c assays were confirmed for Hb variants and were submitted to HbA1c quantification using Sebia Capillarys 2 Flex Piercing, Roche Tina-quant HbA1c Gen. 2, Bio-Rad Variant II Turbo 2.0, ADAMS HA-8180, Tosoh G8 standard mode, and IFCC RMP using LC-MS.Results:Among 114 samples, the most common variants were Hb G-Coushatta (n=47), Queens (n=41), Ube-4 (n=11), Chad (n=4), Yamagata (n=4), G-His-Tsou (n=2), G-Taipei (n=1), Fort de France (n=1), Hoshida (n=1), and two novel variants (Hb α-globin, HBA 52 Gly>Cys and Hb β-globin, HBB 146 His>Asn). In terms of control samples, all the result of HbA1c were “acceptable”, within the criteria of ±7% compared to IFCC RMP target values. However, percentage of “unacceptable” results of samples with Hb variants were 16% for Capillarys 2, 7% for Tina-quant, 51% for Variant II Turbo 2.0, 95% for G8 standard mode, and 89% for HA-8180. The Capillarys 2 and HA-8180 assay did not provide the results in 5 and 40 samples with Hb variants, respectively.Conclusions:HbA1c results from five routine assays in patients with relatively common Hb variants in Korea showed various degrees of bias compared to those of IFCC RMP. Therefore, laboratories should be aware of the limitation of their methods with respect to interference from Hb variants found commonly in their local population and suggest an alternative HbA1c quantification method.

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