Impact of albumin assays in the diagnosis of malnutrition in hemodialysis patients: a cohort study

Open AccessPublished:October 18, 2022DOI:
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      In hemodialysis (HD) patients, malnutrition should be diagnosed by several assessment tools including a plasma albumin concentration of less than 3.8 g/dL or 3.5 g/dL using bromocresol green (BCG) or immunonephelometry (IN), respectively. However, albumin measurement is not yet standardized, and two alternative methods are also commonly used in laboratories: bromocresol purple (BCP) and immunoturbidimetry (IT). This study aimed to revisit the hypoalbuminemia thresholds for BCP and IT, in HD patients.


      Plasma albumin was measured by the four analytical methods during the monthly hemodialysis nutritional assessment of 103 prospectively included patients.


      Significant differences in albumin levels were observed in HD patients depending on the method used. Using BCP or IT with the cut-off at 3.5 g/dL (determined for the general population), we obtained 33% and 9.7% of false hypoalbuminemia in comparison to IN (mean bias of -0.4 g/dL and -0.065 g/dL, respectively). The best hypoalbuminemia threshold for BCP was 3.05 g/dL and 3.4 g/dL for IT. Twenty percent of HD patients were classified as malnourished when albumin was determined by IN. Similar rates were obtained using the new hypoalbuminemia cut-offs for BCP (18.5%) and IT (19.5%).


      To avoid nutritional misclassification of HD patients, we should adjust hypoalbuminemia thresholds when BCP or IT methods are used in laboratories.