Comparison of a New Cobinamide-Based Method to a Standard Laboratory Method for Measuring Cyanide in Human Blood

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Swezey, R., Shinn, W., Green, C., Drover, D. R., Hammer, G. B., Schulman, S. R., . . . Boss, G. R. (2013). Comparison of a new cobinamide-based method to a standard laboratory method for measuring cyanide in human blood. Journal of Analytical Toxicology, 37(6), 382-385. doi: 10.1093/jat/bkt037


Most hospital laboratories do not measure blood cyanide concentrations, and samples must be sent to reference laboratories. A simple method is needed for measuring cyanide in hospitals. The authors previously developed a method to quantify cyanide based on the high binding affinity of the vitamin B12 analog, cobinamide, for cyanide and a major spectral change observed for cyanide-bound cobinamide. This method is now validated in human blood, and the findings include a mean inter-assay accuracy of 99.1%, precision of 8.75% and a lower limit of quantification of 3.27 µM cyanide. The method was applied to blood samples from children treated with sodium nitroprusside and it yielded measurable results in 88 of 172 samples (51%), whereas the reference laboratory yielded results in only 19 samples (11%). In all 19 samples, the cobinamide-based method also yielded measurable results. The two methods showed reasonable agreement when analyzed by linear regression, but not when analyzed by a standard error of the estimate or paired t-test. Differences in results between the two methods may be because samples were assayed at different times on different sample types. The cobinamide-based method is applicable to human blood, and can be used in hospital laboratories and emergency rooms.

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