Clinical chemistry and laboratory medicine

Comparison of four automated serum vitamin B12 assays.

PMID 25720078


Diagnosis of vitamin B12 deficiency is generally based on the measurement of serum vitamin B12 levels. However, in selected cases functional indices of vitamin B12, such as methylmalonic acid (MMA) and homocysteine (HCY), are needed. Here we compare the performance of four automated total vitamin B12 assays and also investigate how these assays relate to functional indices of vitamin B12 status. Total vitamin B12, MMA and HCY were measured in 69 serum samples from routine vitamin B12 assay requests. Serum vitamin B12 analysis was performed using four different immunoassay autoanalyzers: DxI 800 Unicel (Beckman Coulter, USA), ADVIA Centaur XP (Siemens Diagnostics, Tarrytown, NY, USA), Roche Cobas E601 (Roche Diagnostics, Germany), Architect i2000sr (Abbott Laboratories, Abbott Park, IL, USA). Serum MMA levels were determined by liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry (LC-MS) and serum homocysteine levels were determined by high pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC) methods. Four immunoassay methods were comparable and correlated with each other. Correlation coefficients (r) ranged from 0.898 to 0.987, p<0.001. Highest correlation was observed between Roche Cobas - Architect i2000sr and poorest correlation was observed between DxI 800 Unicel - ADVIA Centaur comparison. DxI 800 Unicel assay demonstrated high mean bias [-122 pg/mL (-616-125 pg/mL)] and a concordance correlation coefficient (CCC) of 0.9161, lower than the others. MMA and HCY were correlated with the vitamin B12 results. The correlation coefficients with their 95% CI indicated that there was no statistically significant difference between the four methods according to their relationship with MMA and HCY. Total B12 assays correlate very well with each other. However, results of DxI 800 Unicel were lower compared to the other three autoanalyzers. All total vitamin B12 methods show similar relationships with HCY and MMA. Standardization of serum vitamin B12 assays is still not completed and further standardization studies are needed. Laboratory professionals and clinicians should be aware of this disagreement between assay methods and they should use these tests as ancillary tests.