Immunoassay Testing Post

RBC Folate

B12 and folate are typically ordered to help diagnose the cause of macrocytic anemia. It is usually ordered as a follow-up when there is a large number of RBCs and decreased hemoglobin during a routine CBC. A folate test may also help evaluate the general health and nutritional status of a patient with signs of significant malnutrition or malabsorption. Folate deficiency may be produced by several factors including, inadequate dietary intake, intestinal malabsorption, pregnancy, alcoholism and a variety of drugs, including oral contraceptives and anticonvulsants. Deficiencies of either folate or vitamin B12 may result in megaloblastic anemia and neuropathy. 

When being treated for a B12 or folate deficiency, a patient may occasionally be monitored to evaluate the effectiveness of the treatment. In a person with a nutritional deficiency, this may be done as a follow-up to treatment. In a person with a condition causing a chronic deficiency, this may be part of a long-term treatment plan. Either a serum or RBC folate test may be used to help detect a deficiency, but some doctors feel that the RBC folate test is more clinically relevant than serum folate.

Decreased folate during pregnancy is also a strong risk factor for neurological birth defects. Historically, little or no clinical information was ascribed to normal or increased folate values since it was mainly used to diagnose anemia. However, the recent goals of maintaining high folate concentrations during pregnancy suggest that examination of serum and RBC folate concentrations with an interest in higher values may become common.

RBC folate levels are a more accurate reflection of body stores of folate. Although serum folate offers a reliable test, it fluctuates based on dietary changes. RBC folate concentration correlates well with other indexes of folate deficiency such as bone-marrow cell morphology and hematological changes.

Tosoh’s AIA-PACK RBC Folate offers an assay range of 0.62 to 24 ng/mL. The assay will be available in the 40 minute incubation format on all AIA platforms (with the exception of AIA-360). To order: call 1-866-527-3587, using Catalog #: 020214.

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