Prevalence of hemoglobin variants in a diabetic population at high risk of hemoglobinopathies and optimization of HbA1c monitoring by incorporating HPLC in the laboratory workup
Background: In Tunisia, diabetes mellitus and hemoglobinopathies are major public health problems. Glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) is recommended for long-term monitoring of diabetes mellitus, but the presence of hemoglobin variants may interfere with HbA1c measurement. The aim was to determine the prevalence of hemoglobin variants in Tunisian diabetics and optimize the monitoring of diabetics using HbA1c.
Methods: The study enrolled 9,792 Tunisian diabetic patients. HbA1c was measured by cation-exchange highpressure liquid chromatography (HPLC). All the chromatograms were analyzed for the presence of Hbvariants.
Results: We identified 228 cases (2.33%) of Hb variants with D-10 HPLC (Bio-Rad): 191 with HbA/S trait, 27 with HbA/C trait, and 10 hemoglobin variants with the mention ‘Variant-Window’ on the chromatograms and subsequently identified as HbA/S on Variant I HPLC (Bio-Rad). Thus, the prevalence of HbS was 2.05%. We did not find any homozygous variant. All HbA1c results were reported to the treating physician.
Conclusions: To evaluate glycated hemoglobin in populations with a high prevalence of hemoglobinopathies, we should use the HPLC method, which is easy, economical, and reliable. Based on an algorithm, hemoglobin
variants visualized on HPLC should be reported to the physician to improve the management of patients.
Keywords: hemoglobinopathies; HbA1c; HPLC; diabetes mellitus; prevalence; Tunisia