Improved HPLC method for carbohydrate-deficient transferrin in serum

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Background: There is need for a reference method for transferrin glycoforms in serum to which routine immunologic methods for the alcohol marker carbohydrate-deficient transferrin (CDT) can be traceable. We describe an improved HPLC method for transferrin glycoforms. Methods: Transferrin was iron-saturated by mixing the serum with ferric nitrilotriacetic acid, and lipoproteins were precipitated with dextran sulfate and calcium chloride. Separation of glycoforms was performed on a SOURCE 15Q anion-exchange column using salt gradient elution. Quantification relied on selective absorbance of the iron-transferrin complex at 470 run. The relative amount of each glycoform was calculated as a percentage of the area under the curve, using baseline integration. Results: The HPLC system provided reproducible separation and quantification of the asialo-, monosialo-, disialo-, trisialo-, tetrasialo-, pentasialo-, and hexasialotransferrin glycoforms. Most importantly, disialo- and trisialotransferrin were almost baseline separated. The intra- and interassay CV for disialotransferrin were <5%. Serum and the pretreated samples were stable for at least 2 days at 22 or 4 degreesC. Sera from 132 healthy controls contained [mean (SD)] 1.16 (0.25)% disialotransferrin, 4.77 (1.36)% trisialotransferrin, 80.18 (2.01)% tetrasialotransferrin, and 13.88 (1.69)% pentasialo- + hexasialotransferrin. In some cases of a high (>6%) trisialotransferrin, monosialotransferrin was detected at <0.25%. Asialotransferrin was not detected in control sera, but was detected in 57% of chronic heavy drinkers and in 62% of sera with greater than or equal to2% disialotransferrin. Conclusions: The HPLC method fulfills the requirements of a preliminary reference method for CDT and should work for any combination of serum transferrin glycoforms. This method could also be useful for confirming positive CDT results by immunoassays in medico-legal cases. (C) 2003 American Association for Clinical Chemistry.


  • A Helander
  • A Husa
  • Jan-Olof Jeppsson
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1881-1890
JournalClinical Chemistry
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2003
Publication categoryResearch