Sterilizing irradiation of the US mail has been proposed as a method to prevent delivery of viable anthrax spores. Because newborn screening samples (bloodspots) and cyclosporine and tacrolimus specimens (whole blood) are delivered routinely through the mail, we studied whether sterilizing gamma irradiation could affect these test results. Specimens were exposed to 18 kGy gamma irradiation (100 hours × 18,000 rad/h), a "kill dose" for Bacillus pumilus spore strips. Irradiation had no significant effect on whole blood cyclosporine or tacrolimus results, but it had a degradative effect on bloodspot phenylalanine, hemoglobins, biotinidase, galactose-1-phosphate uridyltransferase, thyroxine, and thyrotropin. Such irradiation potentially could cause false-negative results for the detection of phenylketonuria and likely would lead to an increase in secondary testing for hemoglobin variants, but it is unlikely to lead to false-negative or false-positive results for the remaining newborn screening tests. These experiments cannot rule out possible greater effects by larger doses or other types of irradiation.
- Gamma irradiation
- Immunosuppressive drug therapy
- Newborn screening
- Preanalytic variables
- Specimen integrity
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine