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Clin Chem. 2001 Feb;47(2):153-63.

Effects of hemoglobin variants and chemically modified derivatives on assays for glycohemoglobin.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 75 Francis St., Boston, MA 02115, USA.

Erratum in

  • Clin Chem 2001 Jun;47(6):1141.



Glycohemoglobin (gHb), measured as hemoglobin (Hb) A(1c) or as total gHb, provides a common means for assessing long-term glycemic control in individuals with diabetes mellitus. Genetic variants and chemically modified derivatives of Hb can profoundly affect the accuracy of these measurements, although effects vary considerably among commercially available methods. The prevalence of genetic variants such as HbS, HbC, and HbE, and chemically modified derivatives such as carbamyl-Hb among patient populations undergoing testing is not insignificant. Clinical laboratories and sites responsible for point-of-care testing of gHb need to be aware of the interferences produced in assays by these Hbs.


We conducted a review of the literature describing the effects of variant Hbs on gHb assay methods commonly used in clinical laboratories.


This review summarizes the documented effects of both common and uncommon Hb variants and derivatives on the measurement of gHb. Where known, we discuss mechanisms of interference on specific assays and methodologies. We specifically address effects of commonly encountered Hbs, such as carbamyl-Hb, HbS, HbC, HbE, and HbF, on assays that use cation-exchange chromatography, immunoassays, or boronate affinity methods for measuring gHb.


A variety of patient- and laboratory-related factors can adversely affect the measurement of gHb in patients harboring Hb variants or derivatives. Identification of the variant or derivative Hb before or during testing may allow accurate measurement of gHb by the selection of a method unaffected by the given variant or derivative. However, laboratories should make available alternative, non-Hb-based methods for assessing long-term glycemic control in individuals with HbCC, HbSS, or HbSC disease, or with other underlying disorders where the concentration of gHb does not accurately reflect long-term glycemic control.

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