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The Influence of Preanalytical Biospecimen Handling on the Measurement of B Vitamers, Amino Acids, and Other Metabolites in Blood

, Stephanie J. Weinstein, Paul S. Albert, Amanda Black, Michelle Brotzman, Norma A. Diaz-Mayoral, Nicole Gerlanc, Wen-Yi Huang, Joshua N. Sampson, Alaina Shreves,
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Published: 9 January 2023

Abstract:Introduction: Sample handling can influence biomarker measurement and introduce variability when combining data from multiple studies or study sites. To inform the development of blood collection protocols within a multisite cohort study, we directly quantified concentrations of 54 biomarkers in blood samples subjected to different handling conditions. Materials and Methods: We obtained serum, lithium heparin plasma, and EDTA plasma from 20 adult volunteers. Tubes of chilled whole blood were either centrifuged and processed within 2 hours of collection (the “reference standard”) or were stored with cool packs for 24 or 48 hours; centrifuged before and/or after this delay; or collected in tubes with/without gel separators. We used linear mixed models with random intercepts to estimate geometric mean concentrations and relative percent differences across the conditions. Results: Compared to the reference standard tubes, concentrations of many biomarkers changed after processing delays, but changes were often small. In serum, we observed large differences for B vitamers, glutamic acid (37% and 73% increases with 24- and 48-hour delays, respectively), glycine (12% and 23% increases), serine (16% and 27% increases), and acetoacetate (−19% and −26% decreases). Centrifugation timing and separator tube use did not affect concentrations of most biomarkers. Conclusion: Sample handling should be consistent across samples within an analysis. The length of processing delays should be recorded and accounted for when this is not feasible.
Keywords: epidemiologic studies / biomarkers / specimen handling / B vitamers / amino acids

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