Endocrinology and Bone Metabolism Markers

Endocrine is a section of the Clinical Biochemistry laboratory where more specialised tests are carried out that may not be efficiently processed on larger automated analysers.

We measure a variety of molecules e.g. specific proteins, such as alpha-1-anti trypsin or steroid hormones, such as cortisol, testosterone and oestradiol. A large part of our workload is aimed at identifying abnormal proteins in the serum by electrophoresis techniques, these proteins are used as part of the criteria for diagnosis of myeloma a malignant disease of the bone marrow.

Other examples of analytes that are measured in the section include antibodies (e.g. anti intrinsic factor), peptide hormones (e.g. PTH), tumour markers used in the diagnosis and monitoring of specific cancers and some proteins from the complement cascade.

Apart from electrophoresis techniques most of the other tests use immunoassay methods.

The section is also responsible for antenatal Down’s Syndrome screening. The laboratory offers first trimester screening using a combination of 2 serum markers and ultrasound measured nuchal translucency. These are combined with the mother’s age risk and previous history. The combination of all the results generates a risk value and from this the parents can be either reassured that the pregnancy is low risk for an affected baby or counselled and offered diagnostic testing if the result is high risk.