Variations in biochemical values for common laboratory tests: a comparison among multi-ethnic Israeli women cohort

Ruth Birk, Eliyahu M. Heifetz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Biochemical laboratory values are an essential tool in medical diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up; however, they are known to vary between populations. Establishment of ethnicity-adjusted reference values is recommended by health organizations. Aim: To investigate the ethnicity element in biochemical lab values studying women of different ethnic groups. Methods: Biochemical lab values (n = 27) of 503 adult Israeli women of three ethnicities (Jewish Ashkenazi, Jewish Sephardic, and Bedouin Arab) attending a single medical center were analyzed. Biochemical data were extracted from medical center records. Ethnic differences of laboratory biochemicals were studied using ANCOVA to analyze the center of the distribution as well as quartile regression analysis to analyze the upper and lower limits, both done with an adjustment for age. Results: Significant ethnic differences were found in almost half (n = 12) of the biochemical laboratory tests. Ashkenazi Jews exhibited significantly higher mean values compared to Bedouins in most of the biochemical tests, including albumin, alkaline phosphatase, calcium, cholesterol, cholesterol LDL and HDL, cholesterol LDL calc., folic acid, globulin, and iron saturation, while the Bedouins exhibited the highest mean values in the creatinine and triglycerides. For most of these tests, Sephardic Jews exhibited biochemical mean levels in between the two other groups. Compared to Ashkenazi Jews, Sephardic Jews had a significant shift to lower values in cholesterol LDL. Conclusions: Ethnic subpopulations have distinct distributions in biochemical laboratory test values, which should be taken into consideration in medical practice enabling precision medicine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-258
Number of pages10
JournalIrish Journal of Medical Science
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Biochemical tests
  • Ethnicity
  • HER - electronic health records
  • RI - reference intervals


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