Background: The clinical phenotype manifest by patients with factor VII (FVII) deficiency correlates poorly with that predicted by laboratory tests. Despite its importance, there are no data on the variability of inter-laboratory determinations of low to very low plasma FVII activity (FVII:C). Methods: We distributed three FVII-deficient plasma samples, prepared by immunoaffinity chromatography, to 58 laboratories in Japan. All samples were assayed using standardized reference plasma as a calibrator. Recombinant thromboplastin was also supplied as a common reagent. Results: In the case of sample A, which had a very low FVII:C, the use of standardized reference plasma and thromboplastin, lowered the variability of inter-laboratory measurements, when compared with the variability observed when samples were assayed using the respective laboratory's routine method. Conclusions: The data obtained indicated that results for samples with a very low FVII:C were greatly influenced by the number of plasma dilutions used in constructing a standard activity curve, and also by the type of calibrator and thromboplastin. Such variability was not seen for samples with moderate FVII:C. We conclude that it is necessary to develop a more sensitive and accurate FVII:C measurement system for the diagnosis and treatment of FVII deficiency.
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