A practical approach to red blood cell folate analysis.

Academic Article


  • The measurement of folate in red blood cells (RBCs) is preferred since it reflects long-term folate status in the body compared to plasma/serum folate which may be influenced by recent dietary intake. The commonly accepted technique for RBC folate analysis involves preparation of a hemolysate using a fresh whole blood sample. Hematocrit and plasma folate concentrations are needed to calculate RBC folate values. Because of the need for immediate access to a laboratory where processing can be performed, it may not be practical to assess RBC folate status using this method in field-based epidemiological studies. It is however, feasible to isolate packed RBSs from a blood sample under these conditions. The purpose of this study is to validate RBC folate analysis using packed red cells by comparing the RBC folate values obtained by hemolysate method (routine assay) with those obtained by using packed RBCs (new assay) in the same individuals (n = 50) using the folate microbiological assay. The correlation between plasma folate and the routine RBC folate assay (r = 0.58, p = 0.001) and the correlation between plasma folate and the new RBC folate assay was statistically significant (r = 0.55, p = 0.001). The correlation between RBC folate by the routine assay and new assay was also statistically significant (r = 0.78, p < 0.001). We conclude that measurement of folate in packed RBC is a practical approach in assessing long-term folate status in field-based and or larger scale epidemiological studies where an immediate access to a laboratory is unavailable for necessary sample processing for the routine RBC folate assay.
  • Published In


  • folate, hemolysate, packed RBC
  • Author List

  • Piyathilake CJ; Robinson CB; Cornwell P
  • Start Page

  • 107
  • End Page

  • 110
  • Volume

  • 2