Objectives: To determine the effect of different anticoagulants and storage conditions on the stability of hormones in plasma and serum.
Design and methods: Human blood samples were collected from volunteers into EDTA, lithium heparin, sodium fluoride/potassium oxalate, or tubes without anticoagulant, plasma and serum left at -20 degrees C, 4 degrees C or 30 degrees C for 24 and 120 hours then assayed for ACTH, aldosterone, alpha-subunit, AVP, CRH, C-peptide, estradiol, FSH, glucagon, GH, IGF-1, IGFBP-3, insulin, leptin, LH, PPP, PTH, prolactin and VIP, or at room temperature for 0 to 72 hours (BNP, NT-BNP)(n = 6 per condition).
Results: The anticoagulant altered the measured concentrations for 9 hormones when compared to EDTA. All hormones except ACTH were stable for > 120 hours in EDTA or fluoride at 4 degrees C, but only 13 hormones were stable in all anticoagulants. At 30 degrees C, 8 hormones were stable for > 120 hours in EDTA, and 3 hormones in all anticoagulants. BNP and NT-BNP were stable for < 24 hours when stored in EDTA or heparin at room temperature.
Discussion: Storage of samples in EDTA plasma at 4 degrees C is suitable for most hormones (except ACTH) for up to 120 hours.