Dried blood spot versus venous blood sampling for phenylalanine and tyrosine

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Background: This study investigated the agreement between various dried blood spot (DBS) and venous blood sample measurements of phenylalanine and tyrosine concentrations in Phenylketonuria (PKU) and Tyrosinemia type 1 (TT1) patients. Study design: Phenylalanine and tyrosine concentrations were studied in 45 PKU/TT1 patients in plasma from venous blood in lithium heparin (LH) and EDTA tubes; venous blood from LH and EDTA tubes on a DBS card; venous blood directly on a DBS card; and capillary blood on a DBS card. Plasma was analyzed with an amino acid analyzer and DBS were analyzed with liquid chromatography-mass spectrometry. Agreement between different methods was assessed using Passing and Bablok fit and Bland Altman analyses. Results: In general, phenylalanine concentrations in LH plasma were comparable to capillary DBS, whereas tyrosine concentrations were slightly higher in LH plasma (constant bias of 6.4 μmol/L). However, in the low phenylalanine range, most samples had higher phenylalanine concentrations in DBS compared to LH plasma. Remarkably, phenylalanine and tyrosine in EDTA plasma were higher compared to all other samples (slopes ranging from 7 to 12%). No differences were observed when comparing capillary DBS to other DBS. Conclusions: Overall agreement between plasma and DBS is good. However, bias is specimen-(LH vs EDTA), and possibly concentration-(low phenylalanine) dependent. Because of the overall good agreement, we recommend the use of a DBS-plasma correction factor for DBS measurement. Each laboratory should determine their own factor dependent on filter card type, extraction and calibration protocols taking the LH plasma values as gold standard.

Original languageEnglish
Article number82
Number of pages8
JournalOrphanet journal of rare diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3-Apr-2020


  • Phenylalanine
  • Tyrosine
  • Dried blood spots
  • Lithium heparin plasma
  • EDTA plasma
  • Tandem mass spectrometry
  • TYPE-1

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