Changes in Measurement Procedure from a Radioassay to a Microbiologic Assay Necessitate Adjustment of Serum and RBC Folate Concentrations in the US Population from the NHANES 1988-2010

National Center for Environmental Health, CDC, Atlanta, GA, USA.
Journal of Nutrition (Impact Factor: 3.88). 03/2012; 142(5):894-900. DOI: 10.3945/jn.111.156901
Source: PubMed


The NHANES measured serum and RBC folate concentrations by using a radioassay during prefortification (1988-1994) and postfortification (1999-2006) periods followed by the use of a microbiologic assay (MBA) from 2007-2010. The MBA produces higher concentrations than does the radioassay and is considered to be more accurate. To allow for accurate long-term trending (1988-2010), we evaluated different regression models (linear, piecewise linear, and fractional polynomial) to assay-adjust the radioassay results to be comparable to the MBA results. The data used to derive the regression models originated from 2 crossover studies in which the 2 assays were applied to a set of 325 serum and 171 whole-blood samples. Fractional polynomial regression of logarithmically transformed data provided the best fit for serum folate. Linear regression of logarithmically transformed whole-blood data provided an equally good fit compared with the other models and was the simplest to apply for RBC folate. Prefortification serum and RBC folate geometric mean concentrations increased after adjustment from 13.0 to 16.7 nmol/L and from 403 to 747 nmol/L, respectively. Postfortification serum folate concentrations increased from ~30 to ~43 nmol/L, and RBC folate concentrations increased from ~600 to ~1100 nmol/L after adjustment, with some variation across survey cycles. The presented regression equations allow the estimation of more accurate prevalence estimates and long-term trends in blood folate concentrations in the U.S. population by using results that are equivalent to the MBA. This information will be useful to public health officials in the United States who are dealing with folic acid fortification issues.

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Available from: Ramón Angel Durazo-Arvizu, Jul 07, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: The NHANES has monitored folate status of the U.S. population from prefortification (1988-1994) to postfortification (1999-2010) by measuring serum and RBC folate concentrations. The Bio-Rad radioassay (BR) was used from 1988 to 2006, and the microbiologic assay (MBA) was used from 2007 to 2010. The MBA produces higher concentrations than the BR and is considered to be more accurate. Thus, to bridge assay differences and to examine folate trends over time, we adjusted the BR results to be comparable to the MBA results. Postfortification, assay-adjusted serum and RBC folate concentrations were 2.5 times and 1.5 times prefortification concentrations, respectively, and showed a significant linear trend (P < 0.001) to slightly lower concentrations during 1999-2010. The postfortification prevalence of low serum (<10 nmol/L) or RBC (<340 nmol/L) folate concentrations was ≤ 1%, regardless of demographic subgroup, compared with 24% for serum folate and 3.5% for RBC folate prefortification, with substantial variation among demographic subgroups. The central 95% reference intervals for serum and RBC folate varied by demographic subgroup during both pre- and postfortification periods. Age and dietary supplement use had the greatest effects on prevalence estimates of low folate concentrations during the prefortification period. In summary, the MBA-equivalent blood folate concentrations in the U.S. population showed first a sharp increase from pre- to postfortification, then showed a slight decrease (17% for serum and 12% for RBC folate) during the 12-y postfortification period. The MBA-equivalent pre- and postfortification reference concentrations will inform countries that plan folic acid fortification or that need to evaluate its impact.
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