Introduction: Stability for up to 6 days' storage of erythrocyte and reticulocyte parameters in samples from iron-deficient and thalassemic individuals has not yet been reported. This lack of knowledge challenges evaluation of the full blood count in referral samples for hemoglobinopathy evaluation. We therefore hereby present such sample stability data.
Methods: We included fresh (less than 4 hours old) blood samples from eight healthy, eight iron-deficient, and 11 thalassemic individuals. A full blood count, including reticulocyte parameters, was performed on a Sysmex XE-2100 once daily during a 6-day storage period at room temperature. For healthy individuals, we also studied stability of refrigerated samples and investigated analytical and biological variation.
Results: Hemoglobin concentration, erythrocyte count, and mean corpuscular hemoglobin were stable for 6 days in all diagnostic groups. Mean corpuscular volume increased less in samples from iron-deficient individuals while the number of reticulocytes increased more in samples from thalassemic, as compared to healthy individuals. Ret-He stability depended on its baseline value. Within-person biological variation in samples from healthy individuals was low both for erythrocyte parameters and for reticulocyte hemoglobin, while higher for reticulocyte counts.
Conclusion: Results for hemoglobin concentration, erythrocyte count, and mean corpuscular hemoglobin are reliable in hemoglobinopathy investigation of referred samples for up to 6 days. Storage time-dependent changes of other erythrocyte and reticulocyte parameters in blood samples from iron-deficient and thalassemic individuals differ from those of healthy individuals.
Keywords: Biological variation; hematology; hemoglobinopathies; iron-deficiency anemia; thalassemia.