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  • Author: Ana María García Álvarez x
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The stability limit of an analyte in a biological sample can be defined as the time required until a measured property acquires a bias higher than a defined specification. Many studies assessing stability and presenting recommendations of stability limits are available, but differences among them are frequent. The aim of this study was to classify and to grade a set of bibliographic studies on the stability of five common blood measurands and subsequently generate a consensus stability function.


First, a bibliographic search was made for stability studies for five analytes in blood: alanine aminotransferase (ALT), glucose, phosphorus, potassium and prostate specific antigen (PSA). The quality of every study was evaluated using an in-house grading tool. Second, the different conditions of stability were uniformly defined and the percent deviation (PD%) over time for each analyte and condition were scattered while unifying studies with similar conditions.


From the 37 articles considered as valid, up to 130 experiments were evaluated and 629 PD% data were included (106 for ALT, 180 for glucose, 113 for phosphorus, 145 for potassium and 85 for PSA). Consensus stability equations were established for glucose, potassium, phosphorus and PSA, but not for ALT.


Time is the main variable affecting stability in medical laboratory samples. Bibliographic studies differ in recommedations of stability limits mainly because of different specifications for maximum allowable error. Definition of a consensus stability function in specific conditions can help laboratories define stability limits using their own quality specifications.


Background: Clinical laboratories seeking accreditation for compliance with ISO 15189:2003 need to demonstrate that the physiological reference intervals communicated to all users of the laboratory service are appropriate for the patient population served and for the measurement systems used. In the case of immunological quantities, few articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals.

Methods: A total of 21 clinical laboratories in different regions of Spain collaborated in identifying reference individuals and determining adult reference intervals for some immunological quantities measured using RD/Hitachi Modular Analytics analysers and Tina-Quant® reagent systems. These immunological quantities are the mass concentrations of immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin G, immunoglobulin M, complement C3c and complement C4 in serum. All the logistic work was carried out in co-operation with the supplier of the reagents and analysers (Roche Diagnostics España, S.L., Sant Cugat del Vallès, Catalonia, Spain). From the set of reference values obtained by each laboratory, multicentre reference limits were estimated non-parametrically.

Results and conclusions: The reference intervals estimated in this study for concentrations of serum components under consideration are: complement C3c, 0,62–1,64 g/L for women and men; complement C4, 0,14–0,72 g/L for women and men; immunoglobulin A, 0,89–4,80 g/L for women and men; immunoglobulin G, 6,5–14,3 g/L for women and men; and immunoglobulin M, 0,48–3,38 g/L for women and 0,41–2,46 g/L for men. (According to ISO, IUPAC and IFCC recommendations, the comma is used as the decimal sign.)

Clin Chem Lab Med 2007;45:387–90.