Questions About

What is Alpha1Center?
  • Alpha1Center is a laboratory specializing in testing for alpha1-antitrypin deficiency, which is an inherited condition.
  • Alpha1Center was founded in 1991 and is operated by its founders, Dr. Edward Joseph Campbell and Melody Campbell, MT(ASCP).
  • Alpha1Center was the first laboratory to develop and implement patient-friendly methods for using dried blood spots to test for alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency.
  • Alpha1Center is committed to providing all of the necessary testing for alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency with the first few drops of blood received. Comprehensive test reports describing the results for each patient are returned directly to the healthcare provider.
  • Alpha1Center is passionate about helping to rule out alpha1-antirypsin deficiency for most samples submitted to the laboratory, however if a definitive diagnosis of alpha1-antirypsin deficiency is made, Alpha1Center is committed to providing information that will give the patient the best opportunity to prevail over their disease.
What testing is performed at Alpha1Center?
  • Every sample received by the laboratory is submitted for an immunoassay. This is a simple test which determines how much alpha1-antitrypsin is in the blood. Normal patient samples have an alpha1-antitypsin concentration of ~32µM. Patients with alpha1-antitypsin deficiency have alpha1-antitrypsin concentrations of <11µM. Heterozygotes (carriers) of alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency usually have alpha1-antitrypsin concentrations slightly less than normal.
  • If the sample submitted to the laboratory has an alpha1-antitrypsin concentration of <30µM or the patient has a family history of alpha1-antitrypsin deficiency, a phenotype is automatically performed. The phenotyping procedure is an isoelectric focusing procedure. The result from this testing allows the type of alpha1-antirypsin present in the sample to be identified. This test can detect the M (normal), S (intermediate), and Z (deficient) alleles. Heterozygotes (carriers) are easily identified using this testing.
  • If the sample submitted to the laboratory has an alpha1-antitrypsin concentration of <11µM, and/or phenotypes as PiZ, PiS, or PiSZ, a genotype is performed. A genotype is also performed if unusual mutations were noted on the phenotype test. The laboratory has probes for several other deficiency alleles in addition to S and Z.
How quickly can I expect to receive test results?
  • When a patient’s sample is submitted to Alpha1Center, your office should retain the “Physician’s Copy” of the test requisition. The “Physician’s Copy” has a unique bar code number that can be used to help locate the test results by calling Alpha1Center at 1-800-525-7630 during the business hours of 9am to 5pm Mountain Time. If your office can’t locate your “Physician’s Copy” of the requisition, Alpha1Center can still assist if your office provides the patient’s name and date of birth.
  • Once logged into Alpha-1 Access and entering the “Patient Test Results” tab, you will be able to view patient samples received by Alpha1Center still in the testing process, but not completed. Please be aware, it often takes five business days from mailing to the laboratory’s receipt of your sample.
  • Sample processing time is dependent on the level of testing your submitted sample requires. Samples requiring only an immunoassay are completed within one to two business days. Samples requiring a phenotype may require up to five business days, and it may require up to ten business days when genotyping is required.
  • Test results are available immediately upon completion of all testing by logging on to Alpha-1 Access. If you prefer a faxed copy, please call Alpha1Center at 1-800-525-7630 during the business hours of 9am to 5pm Mountain Time. All test results are mailed when testing is complete. Please allow an additional five business days to receive test results by mail.
I have received several test results which state there were “quality” issues with the submitted sample. What am I doing wrong?
  • It is very important to completely read and understand the test kit instructions before attempting a finger stick blood collection.
  • The lancet included in the test kit is engineered to penetrate the skin to the proper depth and it is contact-activated. There is no need to worry that the lancet will go too deep or not deep enough. Be careful not to press the lancet against anything prior to sticking the finger. The lancet is single use and cannot be triggered a second time.
  • The middle and fourth finger are preferred for virtually pain-free skin incisions and more robust bleeding.
  • To increase local circulation, it is advisable to ensure the patient’s hands are warm. Washing hands in warm water or gently massaging will assist in increasing circulation.
  • After triggering the lancet, allow the blood flow to start naturally, applying only gentle pressure to the finger. There is no need to hurry the process. A natural blood flow yields a far superior sample to send to the laboratory.
  • After a good size drop of blood is formed at the incision site, touch the filter paper circle to the blood drop and allow the blood to saturate the paper. Do not “scrub” or “paint” the filter paper. It is essential that the blood be allowed to saturate the filter paper naturally.
  • Fill the first filter paper circle completely before moving on to the next circle. One completely filled, well-saturated circle yields a better sample for the laboratory than two or three partially filled, not soaked through circles.
  • As the blood is collected, turn the filter paper over and ensure the blood is soaking all the way through to the back of the filter paper. The front and back should look exactly the same.
What are the most common collection mistakes?
  • The sample is not soaked through. The immunoassay is quantitative and thus requires a properly collected sample to give accurate results. The laboratory will not be able to perform the test if the sample is not properly saturated.
  • The sample is “Scant”. While the laboratory has validated assays that only require micro amounts of samples, there is still a minimum requirement. One completely filled circle may be sufficient, but doesn’t allow the laboratory to repeat testing if necessary. Scant samples may only receive partial testing by the laboratory or may be rejected and a new sample requested.
  • The sample is not dried hanging freely over the edge of a counter, book, or in a drying rack. Never allow the sample to come into contact with another surface during the drying process.
  • The sample is not completely dried before inserting into the Tyvek envelope. It is very important to dry the sample completely before enclosing in the Tyvek envelope. The waterproof nature of the Tyvek envelope prevents the proper drying of the sample. Allow AT LEAST one hour dry time before putting the sample in the envelope.
  • The sample was refrigerated while still wet. Never refrigerate the sample. Refrigerating a wet sample destroys the ability for the laboratory to properly test the sample. The nature of the filter paper requires that the sample dry at room temperature.
  • The sample was not mailed promptly. It is important to mail the sample to the laboratory as quickly as possible after collection. If it is not possible to mail on the collection day, please make every effort to mail it the next day.
  • For examples of collection issues please refer to the link “Blood Spot Quality Check” located on this webpage.