Definition of the upper reference limit for thyroglobulin antibodies according to the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry guidelines: comparison of eleven different automated methods

F. D’Aurizio, P. Metus, A. Ferrari, B. Caruso, R. Castello, D. Villalta, A. Steffan, K. Gaspardo, F. Pesente, N. Bizzaro, E. Tonutti, S. Valverde, C. Cosma, M. Plebani, R. Tozzoli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: In the last two decades, thyroglobulin autoantibodies (TgAb) measurement has progressively switched from marker of thyroid autoimmunity to test associated with thyroglobulin (Tg) to verify the presence or absence of TgAb interference in the follow-up of patients with differentiated thyroid cancer. Of note, TgAb measurement is cumbersome: despite standardization against the International Reference Preparation MRC 65/93, several studies demonstrated high inter-method variability and wide variation in limits of detection and in reference intervals. Taking into account the above considerations, the main aim of the present study was the determination of TgAb upper reference limit (URL), according to the National Academy of Clinical Biochemistry guidelines, through the comparison of eleven commercial automated immunoassay platforms. Methods: The sera of 120 healthy males, selected from a population survey in the province of Verona, Italy, were tested for TgAb concentration using eleven IMA applied on as many automated analyzers: AIA-2000 (AIA) and AIA-CL2400 (CL2), Tosoh Bioscience; Architect (ARC), Abbott Diagnostics; Advia Centaur XP (CEN) and Immulite 2000 XPi (IMM), Siemens Healthineers; Cobas 6000 (COB), Roche Diagnostics; Kryptor (KRY), Thermo Fisher Scientific BRAHMS, Liaison XL (LIA), Diasorin; Lumipulse G (LUM), Fujirebio; Maglumi 2000 Plus (MAG), Snibe and Phadia 250 (PHA), Phadia AB, Thermo Fisher Scientific. All assays were performed according to manufacturers’ instructions in six different laboratories in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Veneto regions of Italy [Lab 1 (AIA), Lab 2 (CL2), Lab 3 (ARC, COB and LUM), Lab 4 (CEN, IMM, KRY and MAG), Lab 5 (LIA) and Lab 6 (PHA)]. Since TgAb values were not normally distributed, the experimental URL (e-URL) was established at 97.5 percentile according to the non-parametric method. Results: TgAb e-URLs showed a significant inter-method variability. Considering the same method, e-URL was much lower than that suggested by manufacturers (m-URL), except for ARC and MAG. Correlation and linear regression were unsatisfactory. Consequently, the agreement between methods was poor, with significant bias in Bland–Altman plot. Conclusions: Despite the efforts for harmonization, TgAb methods cannot be used interchangeably. Therefore, additional effort is required to improve analytical performance taking into consideration approved protocols and guidelines. Moreover, TgAb URL should be used with caution in the management of differentiated thyroid carcinoma patients since the presence and/or the degree of TgAb interference in Tg measurement has not yet been well defined.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8
JournalAutoimmunity Highlights
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1 2017


  • Autoimmune thyroid disease
  • Harmonization
  • Immunoassay
  • Thyroglobulin autoantibodies
  • Upper reference limit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Rheumatology
  • Immunology


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