Proficiency testing project for brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) and the N-terminal part of the propeptide of BNP (NT-proBNP) immunoassays: the CardioOrmocheck study

Clin Chem Lab Med. 2009;47(6):762-8. doi: 10.1515/CCLM.2009.153.


Background: We organized and conducted a proficiency testing study (CardioOrmocheck) to evaluate the differences in analytical performance of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) and N-terminal proBNP (NT-proBNP) immunoassays.

Methods: Approximately 90 Italian laboratories were involved in the 2005-2007 proficiency testing cycles, while 112 laboratories took part in the 2008 cycle (from January to May 2008). A total of 28 study samples were measured by participating laboratories for a total of 2354 determinations.

Results: The mean total variability for BNP (50.6 %CV) was significantly higher than that for NT-proBNP (8.4 %CV). In addition, the mean variability due to differences between-methods (46.4 %CV) comprised the majority of the total variability for BNP. Between-method variability for BNP comprised, on average, 84% of total variability, while the within-method variability comprised an average of 20.2 %CV. On the contrary, for NT-proBNP the within-method variability (7.3 %CV) represented the majority of total variability (average 75%), while between-method variability was smaller (4.1 %CV). Imprecision around the cut-off value showed marked differences among methods, especially for BNP immunoassay methods. In addition, BNP methods were affected by large systematic differences, for example an average 2.7-fold difference between Access and ADVIA Centaur methods, while agreement between NT-proBNP methods was better (an average 1.2-fold difference between Dimension and ECLIA on the Elecsys methods).

Conclusions: This multicenter collaborative study demonstrates that there are significant differences in analytical characteristics and measured values among the most popular commercial methods for BNP and NT-proBNP. Clinicians should be very careful when comparing results obtained by laboratories that use different methods.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Heart Diseases / blood
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods*
  • Immunoassay / standards*
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain / blood*
  • Peptide Fragments / blood*
  • Protein Precursors / blood*
  • Reference Standards
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Peptide Fragments
  • Protein Precursors
  • pro-brain natriuretic peptide (1-76)
  • Natriuretic Peptide, Brain