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Volume 16, Issue 2 (March 2014) 16, 178–184; 10.4103/1008-682X.122338

Challenges and improvements in testosterone and estradiol testing

Hubert W. Vesper*, Julianne C. Botelho, Yuesong Wang

Clinical Chemistry Branch, Division of Laboratory Sciences, Centers For Disease Control And Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy NE MS F25, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA

Correspondence: Dr. Hubert W Vesper (

23 December 2013


Assays that measure steroid hormones in patient care, public health, and research need to be both accurate and precise, as these criteria help to ensure comparability across all clinical and research applications. This review addresses major issues relevant to assay variability and describes recent activities by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to improve assay performance. Currently, high degrees of accuracy and precision are not always met for testosterone and estradiol measurements; although technologies for steroid hormone measurement have advanced significantly, measurement variability within and across laboratories has not improved accordingly. Differences in calibration and specificity are discussed as sources of variability in measurement accuracy. Ultimately, a combination of factors appears to cause inaccuracy of steroid hormone measurements, with
nonuniform assay calibration and lack of specificity being two major contributors to assay variability. Within-assay variability for current assays is generally high, especially at low analyte concentrations. The CDC Hormone Standardization (HoSt) Program is improving clinical assays, as evidenced by a 50% decline in mean absolute bias between mass spectrometry assays and the CDC reference method from 2007 to 2011. This program provides the measurement traceability to CDC reference methods and helps to minimize factors affecting measurement variability.

Keywords: CDC hormone standardization; CDC HoSt; estradiol; steroid hormone testing; testosterone

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