Elevated results in a vitamin B12 assay when using serum separator blood collection tubes

Ann Clin Biochem 2003;40:560-562
doi:10.1258/000456303322326498
© 2003 Association for Clinical Biochemistry

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I Lowrey and
G Smith


Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Southern Community Laboratories Ltd, PO Box 21 049, 444 Durham Street, North Christchurch, New Zealand;
Department of Clinical Biochemistry, Southern Community Laboratories Ltd, PO Box 21 049, 444 Durham Street, North Christchurch, New Zealand


Background: In the light of apparently spurious serum vitamin B12 results in some patients, the effect of serum separator sample tubes on serum vitamin B12 values, assayed by the BayerCentaur analyser, was examined.

Method: Results of parallel assays of serum vitamin B12 in plain(non-gel) serum tubes and serum separator gel tubes were compared.Serum in previously centrifuged gel tubes was mixed in the tubeand the effect of that mixing on assay results quantitated.A limited investigation of the effect of tube cap type was alsocarried out.

Results: Serum vitamin B12 concentration was 54% higher in samplestaken into serum separator tubes after re-mixing the serum inthe original tube. This effect could be abolished by re-centrifugation.

Conclusions: Use of serum separator tubes may be associated with spuriously elevated serum vitamin B12 concentrations in the Bayer Centaur assay. Laboratories receiving samples for vitamin B12 assay in serum separator tubes that have already been centrifuged should either re-centrifuge the tubes, or aliquot and re-centrifuge serum from the tubes prior to vitamin B12assay.


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