Causes of Preanalytical Interferences on Laboratory Immunoassays - A Critical Review

EJIFCC. 2020 Mar 20;31(1):70-84. eCollection 2020 Mar.


The immunoassays methods need avoiding interferences that can influence result interpretation. Main sources of interference arise from either patient status, preparation and physiology or laboratory process and procedures. The aim of this non-systematic critical review is to highlight the preanalytical interferences on laboratory immunoassays. Blood hormone profile changes according with age and depending on sex: these are important variables, mainly in newborn, during both sexual maturation and childbearing. Gonadotropins FSH and LH show a sharp increase with age in females, whereas in males LH appears rather stable. With age both males and females show progressive decay of the hormone profile. Stress causes variations, as it influences GH, prolactin, Cortisol and the total/free ratio of thyroid hormone. Diurnal variations, day of cycle, influence by estrogens on thyroid hormone are relevant for result variability. Paraproteins and autoantibodies can interfere in some assays particularly drug, vitamin D and thyroid hormone. As regards the variables due to sample matrix, and to evacuated tubes components, some additives and anticoagulants have been reported to influence specific assays, e.g. thyroid hormone. Hemolysis, lipemia and bilirubin cause interferences on specific techniques/tests, e.g. ferritin, TSH, Vitamin B12, progesterone and folic acid. Nicotine and cocaine addictions interfere with some hormones. Thus, laboratory professionals should be aware of preanalytical problems particularly important when dealing with the immunoassays, by taking appropriate actions to avoid any relevant interferences.

Keywords: blood specimen collection; diagnostic error; patient safety; reproducibility of results; total quality management.

Publication types

  • Review