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Reassessment of a simple chemical method using DCIP for screening for haemoglobin E
  1. L Chapple1,
  2. A Harris2,
  3. L Phelan1,
  4. B J Bain2
  1. 1Department of Haematology, St Mary’s Hospital, Praed Street, London W2 1NY, UK
  2. 2St Mary’s Hospital Campus of Imperial College Faculty of Medicine, Department of Haematology, St Mary’s Hospital
  1. Correspondence to:
 Professor B J Bain
 Department of Haematology, St Mary’s Hospital, Praed Street, London W2 1NY, UK; b.bain{at}


Background: Haemoglobin E is a variant haemoglobin that can lead to considerable morbidity in compound heterozygous states with β thalassaemia. Therefore, its detection is important because it permits antenatal counselling. The parts of the world where haemoglobin E is prevalent are resource poor and detection can therefore be problematical. A simple visual test using 2,6-dichlorophenolindophenol (DCIP) has been developed in Thailand, but its use has not become widespread. This test has now become available in kit form.

Aims/Methods: To evaluate the new DCIP test kit for the detection of haemoglobin E.

Results: Seventeen of 18 samples from individuals with haemoglobin E gave positive results and one gave an equivocal result. False positive or equivocal results were seen in three of 21 individuals with other disorders of globin chain synthesis but were not seen in normal subjects.

Conclusions: This study evaluated the sensitivity, specificity, and reproducibility of the kit and confirmed the usefulness of the DCIP test as a screening test for haemoglobin E. In countries with limited health resources, its use would reduce the number of samples requiring referral to a central laboratory for definitive tests.

  • DCIP, 2,6-dichlorophenolindophenol
  • HPLC, high performance liquid chromatography
  • haemoglobin E
  • haemoglobinopathy
  • variant haemoglobin
  • DCIP
  • under-resourced laboratories

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