Minimally processed fresh frozen human reference sera: preparation, testing, and application to international external quality assurance

Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 2004;64(4):293-308. doi: 10.1080/00365510410006612.


The preparation of unmodified or minimally processed fresh frozen human sera is described, as well as the previous use of such sera, e.g. in Nordic and international external quality assurance (EQA) activities. The unmodified serum is prepared from fresh donors' blood collected in dry bags and allowed to coagulate. The serum is collected "on the clot", pooled, filtered, mixed, dispensed in polypropylene vials and frozen at -80 degrees C without further processing. Some batches were slightly modified by spiking or dilution. Critical steps of the production and use of the sera are described and improvements are discussed. A total of 34 different batches have been prepared since 1985. Results from homogeneity and stability studies are presented. The studies cover 18 routine components in serum stored at +4 degrees C to 37 degrees C for up to 34 days. Good stability was observed for storage of all components, with the exception of triglyceride. Amylase, creatininium, glucose, gamma-glutamyltransferase, urate (and perhaps carbamide) showed deterioration after 13 days of incubation at 37 degrees C. The long-term stability at -80 degrees C is reviewed and new data are presented, e.g. as consensus values from EQA schemes, where the same serum has been sent out three times over 5 years, and from reference measurement procedure values that have been assigned twice with an interval of 5 years. Furthermore, a 10-year stability study has been started.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Specimen Collection / methods*
  • Blood Specimen Collection / standards*
  • Calibration
  • Europe
  • Humans
  • International Cooperation*
  • Laboratories, Hospital / standards
  • Plasma*
  • Quality Control*
  • Reference Standards*
  • Reproducibility of Results