Ghana Medical Journal

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Misleading presentation of haemoglobin electrophoresis data

Patrick Adu, Nicodemus Simpong, Kate Kontor, Richard K.D. Ephraim


Haemoglobinopathies are common in sub-Saharan Africa. As such haemoglobin electrophoresis are required to inform clinical decision making. However, haemoglobin electrophoresis is an assay that detects protein at either alkaline or acidic pH. Such assays do not interrogate gene sequences but rather the product of a gene. As many posttranscriptional and post-translational modifications impact the final output of the gene (i.e. protein), presentation of such protein-based assay must accurately reflect the technique employed. It is grossly misleading and scientifically inaccurate to report cellulose acetate and/or citrate agar haemoglobin electrophoresis results as ‘haemoglobin genotype’.
We propose a new paradigm in which haemoglobin electrophoresis data would be presented as ‘haemoglobin phenotype’ at a specified pH.

Funding: None declared

Keywords: Electrophoresis, haemoglobinopathies, haemoglobin, cellulose acetate electrophoresis, citrate agar electrophoresis
AJOL African Journals Online