To evaluate differences in analytical performance and clinical results of BNP and NT-proBNP immunoassays, a proficiency testing program, called CardioOrmoCheck study, has been organized since 2005 under the patronage of the Study Group of the Cardiovascular Biomarkers of the Italian Society of Clinical Biochemistry (SIBIOC). On average more than 100 Italian laboratories were involved in the annual 2005-2011 cycles. In total, 72 study samples were distributed and measured by participant laboratories for a total of 6706 results. A great difference in between-method variability was found between BNP (43.0 CV%) and NT-proBNP (8.7 CV%) immunoassays. However, with the only exception of the POCT method for BNP assay, all immunoassay methods showed an imprecision ≤ 10 CV% at the cut-off levels (i.e. 100 ng/L for BNP and 400 ng/L for NT-proBNP assay, respectively). Furthermore, CardioOrmoCheck study demonstrated that the most popular BNP immunoassays are affected by large systematic differences (on average more than 2 folds between TRIAGE Beckman-Coulter and ADVIA Centaur Siemens methods), while the agreement between NT-proBNP methods was better. CardioOrmoCheck study demonstrates that there are marked differences in analytical performance and measured values in particular among commercial methods for BNP assay. These findings suggest that it may be not reasonable to recommend identical cut-off or decision values for all BNP immunoassays.
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