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  • Author: PAUL BAUM x
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The purpose of this multicenter study was to evaluate the technical performance of the automated Elecsys proBNP (brain natriuretic peptide) assay, which is indicated as an aid in the diagnosis of individuals suspected of having congestive heart failure. The Elecsys proBNP assay is an electrochemiluminescent immunoassay employing two polyclonal NT-proBNP-specific antibodies in a sandwich test format. The study was performed on the three Elecsys analyzers (E 1010, E 2010, and E 170) at eight different sites world-wide. Within- and total precision were ≤3%, with total precision slightly higher on the Elecsys E 170 instrument with multiple modules. Reproducibility among sites and platforms was <5%. Precision at particularly low NT-proBNP concentrations was assessed down to approximately 25 pg/ml with CVs of 12.6% at 29.2 pg/ml and 9.6% at 38.5 pg/ml for the Elecsys 1010/2010 and E 170, respectively. Linearity was evaluated up to 25,000 pg/ml with a sample-based non-linear response observed with recoveries of <90% for proBNP concentrations <10 000 pg/ml. Slopes ranged between 0.92 and 1.02 and intercepts from –5.3 to 10.4 pg/ml (r≥0.998) among the three types of analyzers. Slopes were 4.95 and 4.53 in comparison to the Biosite Triage and Shionogi BNP assays. There was no assay interference, and no effect of barrier gels, tube composition, or freeze-thaw. NT-proBNP concentrations in EDTA plasma were up to 10% lower than in serum or heparinized plasma and the analyte was stable at 4°C for up to 72 hours (the maximum time tested). There was no circadian rhythm in normal subjects or congestive heart failure patients and there was no effect of drawing position. In summary, the Elecsys proBNP assay exhibits good technical performance and is suitable for use in routine clinical laboratories to aid in the diagnosis of congestive heart failure.


Background: Natriuretic peptides (NP) are well-established markers of heart failure (HF). During the past 5 years, analytical and clinical recommendations for measurement of these biomarkers have been published in guidelines. The aim of this follow-up survey was to investigate how well these guidelines for measurement of NP have been implemented in laboratory practice in Europe.

Methods: Member societies of the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine were invited in 2009 to participate in a web-based audit questionnaire. The questionnaire requested information on type of tests performed, decision limits for HF, turn-around time and frequency of testing.

Results: There was a moderate increase (12%) of laboratories measuring NP compared to the initial survey in 2006. The most frequently used HF decision limits for B-type NP (BNP) and N-terminal BNP (NT-proBNP) were, respectively, 100 ng/L and 125 ng/L, derived from the package inserts in 55%. Fifty laboratories used a second decision limit. Age or gender dependent decision limits were applied in 10% (8.5% in 2006). The vast majority of laboratories (80%) did not have any criteria regarding frequency of testing, compared to 33% in 2006.

Conclusions: The implementation of NP measurement for HF management was a slow process between 2006 and 2009 at a time when guidelines had just been established. The decision limits were derived from package insert information and literature. There was great uncertainty concerning frequency of testing which may reflect the debate about the biological variability which was not published for most of the assays in 2009.


Background: Guidelines on preferred cardiac marker strategies for investigation of patients with acute coronary syndromes (ACS) are available from the laboratory medicine and cardiology communities. Therefore, implementation of these guidelines into daily clinical practice should be a joint effort of laboratory specialists and clinicians. This was investigated in this survey.

Methods: A pilot study was performed sponsored by the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine. A link to an online questionnaire was e-mailed to 990 laboratories from eight European countries in May 2006. The requested information included tests performed, clinical protocol development, and reference limits.

Results: We obtained a total of 220 responses. Out of these, 208 responses (95%) were from hospitals that provide 24-h admission of patients. The suggested turn-around-time (<60 min) was apparently met by >88% for cardiac troponin T/I and for CK-MB mass. The majority of the laboratories derive their decision limits from kit inserts provided by the manufacturers. The results revealed a worrying fact that external quality assessments are not used in all testing.

Conclusions: Our survey demonstrated that cardiac troponin is the preferred biomarker for the diagnosis of ACS. Half of the participants had written protocols, mostly as a result of collaboration between laboratorians and clinicians.

Clin Chem Lab Med 2009;47:227–34.


Background: Correct information provided by guidelines may reduce laboratory test related errors during the pre-analytical, analytical and post-analytical phase and increase the quality of laboratory results.

Methods: Twelve clinical practice guidelines were reviewed regarding inclusion of important laboratory investigations. Based on the results and the authors’ experience, two checklists were developed: one comprehensive list including topics that authors of guidelines may consider and one consisting of minimal standards that should be covered for all laboratory tests recommended in clinical practice guidelines. The number of topics addressed by the guidelines was related to involvement of laboratory medicine specialists in the guideline development process.

Results: The comprehensive list suggests 33 pre- analytical, 37 analytical and 10 post-analytical items. The mean percentage of topics dealt with by the guidelines was 33% (median 30%, range 17%–55%) and inclusion of a laboratory medicine specialist in the guideline committee significantly increased the number of topics addressed. Information about patient status, biological and analytical interferences and sample handling were scarce in most guidelines even if the inclusion of a laboratory medicine specialist in the development process seemingly led to increased focus on, e.g., sample type, sample handling and analytical variation. Examples underlining the importance of including laboratory items are given.

Conclusions: Inclusion of laboratory medicine specialist in the guideline development process may increase the focus on important laboratory related items even if this information is usually limited. Two checklists are suggested to help guideline developers to cover all important topics related to laboratory testing.


The joint consensus panel of the European Atherosclerosis Society (EAS) and the European Federation of Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (EFLM) recently addressed present and future challenges in the laboratory diagnostics of atherogenic lipoproteins. Total cholesterol (TC), triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDLC), LDL cholesterol (LDLC), and calculated non-HDLC (=total – HDLC) constitute the primary lipid panel for estimating risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) and can be measured in the nonfasting state. LDLC is the primary target of lipid-lowering therapies. For on-treatment follow-up, LDLC shall be measured or calculated by the same method to attenuate errors in treatment decisions due to marked between-method variations. Lipoprotein(a) [Lp(a)]-cholesterol is part of measured or calculated LDLC and should be estimated at least once in all patients at risk of ASCVD, especially in those whose LDLC declines poorly upon statin treatment. Residual risk of ASCVD even under optimal LDL-lowering treatment should be also assessed by non-HDLC or apolipoprotein B (apoB), especially in patients with mild-to-moderate hypertriglyceridemia (2–10 mmol/L). Non-HDLC includes the assessment of remnant lipoprotein cholesterol and shall be reported in all standard lipid panels. Additional apoB measurement can detect elevated LDL particle (LDLP) numbers often unidentified on the basis of LDLC alone. Reference intervals of lipids, lipoproteins, and apolipoproteins are reported for European men and women aged 20–100 years. However, laboratories shall flag abnormal lipid values with reference to therapeutic decision thresholds.