Comparison of two ferritin assay platforms to assess their level of agreement in measuring serum and plasma ferritin levels in patients with chronic kidney disease

Sandawana William Majoni, Jane Nelson, Jessica Graham, Asanga Abeyaratne, David Kiran Fernandes, Sajiv Cherian, Geetha Rathnayake, Jenna Ashford, Lynn Hocking, Heather Cain, Robert McFarlane, Paul Damian Lawton, Federica Barzi, Sean Taylor, Alan Cass

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Background: Ferritin levels are used to make decisions on therapy of iron deficiency in patients with chronic kidney disease (CKD). Hyperferritinaemia, common among patients with CKD from the Northern Territory (NT) of Australia, makes use of ferritin levels as per clinical guidelines challenging. No gold standard assay exists for measuring ferritin levels. Significant variability between results from different assays creates challenges for clinical decision-making regarding iron therapy. In the NT, different laboratories use different methods. In 2018, Territory Pathology changed the assay from Abbott ARCHITECT i1000 (AA) to Ortho-Clinical Diagnostics Vitros 7600 (OCD). This was during the planning of the INtravenous iron polymaltose for First Nations Australian patients with high FERRitin levels on haemodialysis (INFERR) clinical trial. The trial design was based on AA assay ferritin levels. We compared the two assays’ level of agreement in measuring ferritin levels in CKD patients. Methods: Samples from INFERR clinical trial participants were analysed. Other samples from patients whose testing were completed the same day on OCD analyzers and run within 24 h on AA analyzers were added to ensure wide range of ferritin levels, adding statistical strength to the comparison. Ferritin levels from both assays were compared using Pearson’s correlation, Bland–Altman, Deming and Passing-Bablok regression analyses. Differences between sample types, plasma and serum were assessed. Results: Sixty-eight and 111 (179) samples from different patients from Central Australia and Top End of Australia, respectively, were analyzed separately and in combination. The ferritin levels ranged from 3.1 µg/L to 3354 µg/L and 3 µg/L to 2170 µg/L for AA and OCD assays respectively. Using Bland–Altman, Deming and Passing-Bablok regression methods for comparison, ferritin results were consistently 36% to 44% higher with AA than OCD assays. The bias was up to 49%. AA ferritin results were the same in serum and plasma. However, OCD ferritin results were 5% higher in serum than plasma. Conclusions: When making clinical decisions, using ferritin results from the same assay in patients with CKD is critical. If the assay is changed, it is essential to assess agreement between results from the new and old assays. Further studies to harmonize ferritin assays are required.

Original languageEnglish
Article number198
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Nephrology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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