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International Standard for serum vitamin B12 and serum folate: international collaborative study to evaluate a batch of lyophilised serum for B12 and folate content

Susan J. Thorpe, Alan Heath, Sheena Blackmore, Anne Lee, Malcolm Hamilton, Sean O'Broin, Bryant C. Nelson and Christine Pfeiffer
From the journal

Abstract

Background: Vitamin B12 and folate measurements in serum show wide inter-methodology variability. This variability appears to be due in part to the lack of standardisation against internationally accepted reference materials. Pooled human serum, lyophilised in ampoules and designated 03/178, was therefore evaluated by 24 laboratories in seven countries for its suitability to serve as an International Standard (IS) for B12 and folate.

Methods: IS 03/178 was assayed using a range of commercial analysers, microbiological assays and, for folate, candidate reference methods based on liquid chromatography coupled to isotope-dilution tandem mass spectrometry (LC/MS/MS).

Results: Mean vitamin B12 and folate values for reconstituted 03/178 across all laboratories and methods were 480 pg/mL [coefficient of variation (CV) 12.8%] and 5.52 ng/mL (CV 17.1%), respectively. The total folate content of reconstituted 03/178, determined using LC/MS/MS, was 12.1 nmol/L (equivalent to 5.33 ng/mL), made up of 9.75 nmol/L 5-methyl tetrahydrofolic acid (5MeTHF; CV 5.5%), 1.59 nmol/L 5-formyl tetrahydrofolic acid (5FoTHF; CV 4.2%) and 0.74 nmol/L folic acid (FA; CV 31.6%). The inclusion of three serum samples in the study with different B12 and folate levels demonstrated a considerable reduction in inter-laboratory variability when the B12 and folate content of the samples was determined relative to the IS 03/178 rather than to the analyser calibration. IS 03/178 demonstrated satisfactory long-term stability in accelerated degradation studies.

Conclusions: Use of IS 03/178 to standardise serum B12 and folate assays reduced inter-laboratory variability. The World Health Organization (WHO) Expert Committee on Biological Standardisation established 03/178 as the first IS for serum vitamin B12 and serum folate, with assigned values of 480 pg/mL of vitamin B12 and 12.1 nmol/L folate when the lyophilised contents of the ampoule are reconstituted with 1 mL of water.

Clin Chem Lab Med 2007;45:380–6.

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Corresponding author: Dr. S.J. Thorpe, Parenterals Section, Biotherapeutics Group, National Institute for Biological Standards and Control, Blanche Lane, South Mimms, Potters Bar, Hertfordshire EN6 3QG, UK Phone: +44-1707-641251, Fax: +44-1707-641053,

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Published Online: 2007-03-01
Published in Print: 2007-03-01

©2007 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin New York