External Quality Assurance programs for processing methods provide evidence on impact of preanalytical variables

Paolo Verderio, Chiara Maura Ciniselli, Amélie Gaignaux, Marta Pastori, Sabrina Saracino, Olga Kofanova*, Fay Betsou

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


An annual External Quality Assurance (EQA) program has been provided to processing laboratories over the last ten years, allowing them to assess the performance of their processing methods, such as nucleic acid extractions or peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) isolation and cryopreservation. The objective of this study was to perform a global analysis on almost 1000 EQA scheme/participant data in order to assess (i) the impact of critical preanalytical factors on quantitative or qualitative attributes of different types of specimens and (ii) laboratory performance pattern over time. Statistical analysis was performed within each EQA scheme based on categorized preanalytical data provided by the participants and on centralized measurements of relevant quality attributes of the produced specimens (z-scores): DNA, cell-free (cf)DNA or RNA extraction from blood, DNA or RNA extraction from formalin fixed tissue, DNA or RNA extraction from frozen tissue, DNA extraction from saliva or stool, viable PBMC isolation and cryopreservation. The most critical preanalytical factors in nucleic acid extraction schemes were the nucleic acid extraction method and kit, the elution buffer, the enzymes used during extraction, the input material quantity and the storage temperature. Several indications of laboratory performance improvement over time could be seen. The conclusions are that EQA for processing methods provides unique evidence-based insights into the impact of preanalytical factors and the comparative performance of different processing methods and kits, while supporting laboratories in validating their processing methods.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-37
Number of pages9
JournalNew Biotechnology
Early online date29 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 25 Dec 2022


  • External quality assurance
  • Preanalytical
  • Processing
  • Specimen


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