Precise quantification of haemoglobin in erythroid precursors and plasma

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Haemoglobin (Hb) quantification in whole blood is possible by various spectrophotometric methods. However, determination of low-level Hb in erythroid precursors or haemolytic plasma is inaccurate because of contribution from light scatter and/or nonhaemoglobin components with overlapping absorbance. Therefore, this study developed a sole method allowing accurate spectrophotometric quantification of Hb at a low concentration range.


Advantage was taken of the unique absorption spectra of carbon monoxide–Hb complex (COHb) as compared to oxyHb. The visible absorption spectra of samples were recorded prior and following carbon monoxide exposure. A difference extinction coefficient at the maximal difference absorption was used to calculate Hb concentrations.


Known amounts of Hb were added to mouse erythroleukaemia (MEL) cells lysate or plasma to yield known ‘theoretical’ concentrations. The concentrations were measured by the current and known methods. The current method was found much more accurate compared with previous methods specifically at low concentrations.


The method is valid for accurate quantification of Hb at a wide concentration range (>0.1 μm/L) in erythroid precursors or plasma and is optional for other biological fluids.

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