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Concept: Certified reference materials


BACKGROUND: Despite considerable global investigation over several decades, the roles of vitamin D in health and disease development remains convoluted. One recognised issue is the difficulty of accurately measuring the active forms of vitamin D. Advances made include some new methods addressing the potential interference by excluding epimers and isobars. However, there is no evidence that epimers are without function. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop and validate, for the first time, a new assay to simultaneously measure levels of 6 forms of vitamin D along with two epimers. The assay was applied to multilevel certified reference material calibrators and 25 pooled human sera samples obtained from the Vitamin D External Quality Assessment Scheme (DEQAS) to demonstrate its efficiency. RESULTS: The assay is capable of simultaneously measuring 8 vitamin D analogues over the calibration ranges and LODs (in nmol/L) of: 1alpha25(OH)2D2 [0.015-1; 0.01], 1alpha25(OH)2D3 [0.1-100; 0.01], 25OHD3 [0.5-100, 0.025], 3-epi-25OHD3 [0.1-100, 0.05], 25OHD2 [0.5-100, 0.025], 3-epi-25OHD2 [0.1-100, 0.05], vitamin D3 [0.5-100, 0.05] and vitamin D2 [0.5-100, 0.05], using stanozolol-d3 as internal standard. Certified reference material calibrators and external quality control samples (DEQAS) were analysed to meet the standards outlined by National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Validation steps included recovery and both precision and accuracy under inter- and intra-day variation limit of detection, and analysis of each analyte over a linear range. All validation parameters were in line with acceptable Food and Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines and the standards of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). All eight analogues were quantified with the 25OHD levels being commensurate with DEQAS data. CONCLUSIONS: This report details the application of a new LC-MS/MS based assay for the efficient analysis of eight analogues of vitamin D over a range of samples, which is a significant advance over the existing methods. Simultaneous measure of 8 vitamin D analogues does not compromise the analytical capability of the assay to quantify the commonly used biomarker (25OHD) for vitamin D status. The results demonstrate the feasibility of applying the assay in research and clinical practice that i) excludes misleading measures owing to epimers and isobars and ii) is able to quantify the excluded component to facilitate further in vivo investigation into the roles of ubiquitous epimers.

Concepts: Vitamin D, Mass spectrometry, Measurement, Validation, Analytical chemistry, Standard, Calibration, Certified reference materials


The importance of hemoglobin A2 (HbA2) as an indicator of the presence of β-thalassemia was established many years ago. However, clinical application of recommended HbA2 cut off values is often hampered due to poor equivalence of HbA2 results among methods and laboratories. Thus, the IFCC Standardization program for HbA2 was initiated in 2004 with the goal of achieving a complete reference system for this measurand. HbA2 standardization efforts are still in progress, including the development of a higher-order HbA2 reference measurement procedure and the preparation of a certified reference material in collaboration with the IRMM. Here, we review the past, present and future of HbA2 standardization and describe the current status of HbA2 testing.

Concepts: Present, Time, Future, Work in progress, The Current, Past, Certified reference materials, Standards


As the lipidomics field continues to advance, self-evaluation within the community is critical. Here, we performed an interlaboratory comparison exercise for lipidomics using Standard Reference Material (SRM) 1950 Metabolites in Frozen Human Plasma, a commercially available reference material. The interlaboratory study comprised 31 diverse laboratories, with each lab using a different lipidomics workflow. A total of 1527 unique lipids were measured across all laboratories, and consensus location estimates and associated uncertainties were determined for 339 of these lipids measured at the sum composition level by five or more participating laboratories. These evaluated lipids detected in SRM 1950 serve as community-wide benchmarks for intra- and inter-laboratory quality control and method validation. These analyses were performed using non-standardized laboratory-independent workflows. The consensus locations were also compared to a previous examination of SRM 1950 by the LIPID MAPS consortium. While the central theme of the interlaboratory study was to provide values to help harmonize lipids, lipid mediators, and precursor measurements across the community, it was also initiated to stimulate a discussion regarding areas in need of improvement.

Concepts: Metabolism, Metrology, Chemistry, Management, Lipids, Standard, Uncertainty, Certified reference materials


The certification of a new standard reference material for small-angle scattering [NIST Standard Reference Material (SRM) 3600: Absolute Intensity Calibration Standard for Small-Angle X-ray Scattering (SAXS)], based on glassy carbon, is presented. Creation of this SRM relies on the intrinsic primary calibration capabilities of the ultra-small-angle X-ray scattering technique. This article describes how the intensity calibration has been achieved and validated in the certified Q range, Q = 0.008-0.25 Å(-1), together with the purpose, use and availability of the SRM. The intensity calibration afforded by this robust and stable SRM should be applicable universally to all SAXS instruments that employ a transmission measurement geometry, working with a wide range of X-ray energies or wavelengths. The validation of the SRM SAXS intensity calibration using small-angle neutron scattering (SANS) is discussed, together with the prospects for including SANS in a future renewal certification.

Concepts: Diffraction, Scattering, Standard, Calibration, Certified reference materials, X-rays, Small-angle X-ray scattering, Small-angle scattering


We have developed a highly sensitive and selective analytical method capable of quantifying a total of 15 polybrominated and polychlorinated biphenyls (11 PBBs and 4 PCBs) in human serum. Samples were subjected to liquid-liquid extraction followed by solid-phase extraction prior to measurement using gas chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry in multiple reaction monitoring mode. Quantification was performed using isotope-dilution calibration covering a concentration range of 0.005-12.5 ng/mL. Limits of detection for all target compounds were in the low range (0.7-6.5 pg/mL). The method was validated using in-house pooled human serum fortified at two concentrations (0.5 ng/mL and 1.0 ng/mL), whole semen fortified at one concentration (0.25 ng/mL), and NIST Standard Reference Material (SRM) 1958, which includes five of the target compounds. Method accuracies for all target compounds ranged from 84 to 119% with relative standard deviations (RSDs) of <19%. The measured values for the five target compounds present in the SRM agreed with the certified reference values (89-119% accuracy with RSDs <9%). As this method was developed to support ongoing epidemiologic investigations, we evaluated its suitability by analyzing subsets of serum and whole semen samples from the Michigan PBB Registry cohort. PBB-153, PCB-118, PCB-138, PCB-153 and PCB-180 were detected in all serum samples analyzed, with PBB-77 and PBB-101 detected less frequently in serum. PBB-153, PCB-118, PCB-138, PCB-153 and PCB-180 were detected in at least one whole semen sample.

Concepts: Mass spectrometry, Analytical chemistry, Standard, Calibration, Certified reference materials, Polychlorinated biphenyl, Biphenyl, Polychlorinated dibenzodioxins


From measurements over the last two years we have demonstrated that the charge collection system based on Faraday cups can robustly give near-1% absolute implantation fluence accuracy for our electrostatically scanned 200 kV Danfysik ion implanter, using four-point-probe mapping with a demonstrated accuracy of 2%, and accurate Rutherford backscattering spectrometry (RBS) of test implants from our quality assurance programme. The RBS is traceable to the certified reference material IRMM-ERM-EG001/BAM-L001, and involves convenient calibrations both of the electronic gain of the spectrometry system (at about 0.1% accuracy) and of the RBS beam energy (at 0.06% accuracy). We demonstrate that accurate RBS is a definitive method to determine quantity of material. It is therefore useful for certifying high quality reference standards, and is also extensible to other kinds of samples such as thin self-supporting films of pure elements. The more powerful technique of Total-IBA may inherit the accuracy of RBS.

Concepts: Measurement, Quality assurance, Test method, Ion source, Standard, Calibration, Certified reference materials, Standards


Nucleic acid amplification technique (NAT)-based assays are increasingly used for the detection of mycoplasma contamination of cell cultures, as an alternative to culture-based approaches. Assay features, like limit of detection or quantification vary widely between different mycoplasma NAT assays. Biological reference materials may be useful for harmonization of mycoplasma NAT assays. An international feasibility study included lyophilized preparations of four distantly related mycoplasma species (Acholeplasma (A.) laidlawii, Mycoplasma (M.) fermentans, M. orale, M. pneumoniae) at different concentrations which were analysed by 21 laboratories using 26 NAT assays of qualitative, semi-quantitative or quantitative design. An M. fermentans preparation was shown to decrease interassay variation when used as a common reference material. The preparation was re-manufactured, characterized in a comparability study and its potency determined in “NAT detectable units” across different NATs. The WHO Expert Committee on Biological Standardization (ECBS) established this preparation as “1st WHO International Standard (IS) for mycoplasma DNA for NAT assays designed for generic mycoplasma detection” with a potency of 200,000 International Units/ml. This WHO IS is now available as a reference preparation for characterization of NAT assays e.g determination of analytic sensitivity, for calibration of quantitative assays in a common unitage and for defining regulatory requirements in the field of mycoplasma testing.

Concepts: DNA, Nucleic acid, Analytical chemistry, Biochemistry, Mycoplasma, World Health Organization, Certified reference materials, International Organization for Standardization


The NISTmAb Reference Material (RM) 8671 is intended to be an industry standard monoclonal antibody for pre-competitive harmonization of best practices and designing next generation characterization technologies for identity, quality, and stability testing. It must therefore embody the quality and characteristics of a typical biopharmaceutical product and be available long-term in a stable format with consistent product quality attributes. A stratified sampling and analysis plan using a series of qualified analytical and biophysical methods is described that assures RM 8671 meets these criteria. Results for the first three lots of RM 8671 highlight the consistency of material attributes with respect to size, charge, and identity. RM 8671 was verified to be homogeneous both within and between vialing lots, demonstrating the robustness of the lifecycle management plan. It was analyzed in concert with the in-house primary sample 8670 (PS 8670) to provide a historical link to this seminal material. RM 8671 was verified to be fit for its intended purpose as a technology innovation tool, external system suitability control, and cross-industry harmonization platform. Graphical abstract The NISTmAb Reference Material (RM) 8671 is intended to be an industry standard monoclonal antibody for pre-competitive harmonization of best practices and designing next generation characterization technologies for identity, quality, and stability testing.

Concepts: Sampling, Validation, Management, Homogeneity, Standard, Certified reference materials, Stratified sampling, Consistency


Rare earth elements (REEs) have several applications but the effects on environment are not well known. Therefore, the aim of this work is to establish a method for direct solid sample analysis by laser ablation-inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MS) to evaluate the concentration and distribution of REEs in cultivated and non-cultivated soil. Samples were collected in two areas to 40 cm of depth. The LA-ICP-MS method is easy to be implemented and the sample treatment is very fast comprising only its drying, grounding and pressing as a pellet. The accuracy of the method was evaluated by using a certified reference material (BCR 667 - Estuarine Sediment, Institute for Reference Materials and Measurements (IRMM)) where good agreement with the certified values was obtained. Analyte recovery at two levels of concentration (2.5 and 15.0 μg g-1) was also performed and recoveries in the range of 85%-120% were achieved, values that are acceptable for LA-ICP-MS analysis. In general, the concentration of the REEs is higher in the cultivated soil and increased from the surface to deeper layers, which can be a consequence of fertilizer application.

Concepts: Chemistry, Analytical chemistry, Java, Phosphor, 2006 albums, Certified reference materials, Plasma, Rare earth element


Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs) represent a group of synthetic chemicals, and they have quite different physicochemical properties, which result in difficulties of their simultaneous determination in a single injection. A sensitive, reliable, and fully automated method was developed for simultaneously detecting 10 classes of PFASs (total of 43) in human serum using online Turboflow SPE-UHPLC-MS/MS. This method provided high linearity of matrix-matched calibration standards (R > 0.99), excellent method limits of detection (MLODs) (0.013-0.089 ng mL-1), satisfactory matrix spiked recoveries (84.3-109%) and relative standard deviations (RSDs) (intra-day RSDs: 1.3-12.6%, inter-day RSDs: 1.7-13.8%, inter-week RSDs: 1.8-13.5%, inter-month RSDs: 3.1-12.4%), short analysis time (19 min per sample) and small sample amount requirement (25 μL), which were suitable for large-scale epidemiologic studies. Moreover, the method provided the feasibility of real-time monitoring for the degradation kinetics of PFASs precursors both in vitro and in vivo. The quality of the present method was further verified by repetitive analysis of a standard reference material (SRM 1957), with the deviations of the targeted PFAS concentrations ranging from 1.9% to 14.2% (n = 5) between the detected and reference values. The present study also determined values for several PFASs in SRM 1957 other than those on the certificate, for the first time, such as N-EtFOSA, 6:2 Cl-PFESA, and PFBA. Finally, the established method was applied to detect PFASs in serum samples of 15 ordinary people and 15 occupational workers, and 6:2 FTSA was found as the dominant precursor.

Concepts: Present, Time, Epidemiology, Sample size, Standard deviation, Standard, Calibration, Certified reference materials