Chinese researchers develop non-invasive clinical laboratory skin test for measuring cholesterol

Research may also have found a link between atherosclerosis and cholesterol

Chinese scientists have developed an advanced method for non-invasively monitoring blood cholesterol levels in humans. The innovative technology uses images of skin on hands and could eliminate the need for both invasive venipuncture and fasting for cholesterol testing. Given the large volumes of blood cholesterol testing currently performed by clinical laboratories, this new technology could have a significant impact on cholesterol testing if further studies confirm its capabilities.

Notably, the Chinese researchers have apparently already developed a lab analyzer to perform the procedure and it is being used in clinical care. However, in the United States and other countries, this technology will require additional clinical trials and regulatory scrutiny before clinical laboratories can use it in everyday patient care.

The cholesterol detection system consists of a detection reagent linked to a fluorescent group that binds to skin cholesterol, and a detection device. According to the researchers, cholesterol levels are easily extracted from the skin by using a scanner to analyze the way in which the skin absorbs and scatters light.

If validated for clinical care, this technology could replace other invasive clinical laboratory tests for cholesterol measurement.

The scientists published their findings in the journal Lipids in health and diseasetitled “Non-Invasive Skin Cholesterol Testing: A Potential Proxy for LDL-C and ApoB Serum Measurements.”

The series of images above, courtesy of the researchers Lipids in health and disease published study, shows how their non-invasive clinical laboratory test for total blood cholesterol is performed. Non-invasive clinical laboratory tests for monitoring blood biomarkers are always preferred by patients over venipuncture and fasting. (Photo copyright: Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences.)

First evidence of relationship between cholesterol and atherosclerosis

“Just put your hands up and the system will tell you the cholesterol data,” Yikun Wang, PhD, professor, Department of Physical Sciences, Hefei Institutes of Physical Science, Chinese Academy of Sciences, and leader of the research team, told me. Diagnostic world. “Cholesterol is one of several types of fats (lipids) that play an important role in the human body. We can track your fats in this simple way.”

To perform the tests, clinicians first clean the test site on the fleshy edge of the palm with an alcohol swab. A patient’s non-dominant hand is used for the test because the skin on that hand is typically less abrasive and contains fewer melanocytes, allowing for more stable results. Then, a plastic-coated annulus is applied to the test site and the examined part is placed on the measuring hole of the detection system to measure the background light spectrum of the skin.

Once the background signal is established, the detection reagent is added to the annulus until it is full. After 60 seconds, excess detection reagent is removed from the annulus. A cleaning reagent is then added to the annulus for 30 seconds and removed with a sterile swab. The treated area of ​​skin is then placed over the measurement hole of the sensing system and two light spectra are compared to measure skin cholesterol, which correlates accurately with cholesterol in the bloodstream.

“As compared to on sight detection used in the previous clinical study, our device can provide more accurate results because we can avoid the influence of pressure and skin background differences [person to person]Wang said. “Research results provide the first evidence of an association between skin cholesterol and atherosclerotic disease in a Chinese population, which may be of great interest to researchers around the world.”

Initially, 154 patients diagnosed with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) between January 2020 and April 2021 were included in the study. However, only 121 of those patients were included in the final study and the remaining were excluded due to at least one of the following criteria:

  • History of statin drug use,
  • Inability to tolerate statins,
  • Severe hepatic (hepatic) or renal (renal) insufficiency, and
  • obesity.

Use by a physician may affect the accuracy of the test

Developed by researchers from the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science Chinese Academy of Sciences and the University of Science and Technology of China, the researchers noted that how clinicians operate the device can affect the accuracy of test results.

“A crucial step in the [testing] process subject to operator variability is blotting, which requires the operator to remove an unbound detector from the palm before adding the indicator,” Wang said. Diagnostic world. “Excess residual indicator solution can result in a falsely elevated skin cholesterol level. Therefore, we plan to develop a simplified and standardized blotting procedure.”

Millions of people in the US live with a disease that requires regular monitoring of blood cholesterol levels. Normal total cholesterol should be less than 200 milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly 94 million American adults over the age of 20 have total cholesterol levels greater than 200 mg/dL, and 28 million adults have total cholesterol levels greater than 240 mg/dL. In addition, 7% of children and adolescents between the ages of six and nineteen have high cholesterol. For these reasons, cholesterol testing represents a substantial portion of the clinical laboratory testing performed daily in this country.

This new non-invasive technology for monitoring total blood cholesterol levels in humans could bring many benefits to patients, especially if it eliminates the need for venipuncture and fasting prior to testing. Clinical lab managers and pathologists may want to monitor the progress of this new cholesterol testing technology as it demonstrates its value in China and is submitted for regulatory review in this country.

J. P. Schlingman

Related information:

Non-invasive scanning technology reads blood cholesterol levels through the skin

Non-invasive skin cholesterol test: a potential proxy for LDL-C and ApoB serum measurements

Researchers develop new system for rapid and non-invasive detection of skin cholesterol

Non-invasive detection system to prevent cardiovascular disease

Skin cholesterol testing may play a role in lipid screening and management

CDC: Facts About High Cholesterol

Chinese researchers develop non-invasive clinical laboratory skin test for measuring cholesterol

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