Sky High or Undetectable? A Patient With Discordant Hemoglobin A1c

Patricia Lee, DO, JD; Allison B. Chambliss, PhD; Maximo J. Marin, MD


Lab Med. 2021;52(5):e129-e132. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


A female patient aged 47 years presented with a hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) level of 54.6%, as measured by ion-exchange high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC), and a glucose level of 106 mg/dL. The HbA1c was re-evaluated using a turbidimetric inhibition immunoassay and found below the level of detection. Hemoglobinopathy testing led to the identification of a hemoglobin variant consistent with Hb Raleigh, in which a valine → alanine substitution on the beta chain effects a charge difference, resulting in coelution with HbA1c on HPLC and a spuriously high reading. Many Hb variants may interfere with HbA1c measurement and generate misleading results. The unique properties of Hb Raleigh may give rise to analytical errors when evaluating HbA1c using 2 different methods—molecular charge–based (eg, HPLC) and molecular structure–based (eg, immunoassay)—yielding diametrically opposed results. Consequently, recognition and diagnosis of this entity are essential in patients with Hb Raleigh, especially when monitoring long-term glucose control.