Effects of blood sample handling procedures on measurable inflammatory markers in plasma, serum and dried blood spot samples

J Immunol Methods. 2008 Jul 20;336(1):78-84. doi: 10.1016/j.jim.2008.04.006. Epub 2008 May 1.


The interests in monitoring inflammation by immunoassay determination of blood inflammatory markers call for information on the stability of these markers in relation to the handling of blood samples. The increasing use of stored biobank samples for such ventures that may have been collected and stored for other purposes, justifies the study hereof. Blood samples were stored for 0, 4, 24, and 48 h at 4 degrees C, room temperature (RT), and at 35 degrees C, respectively, before they were separated into serum or plasma and frozen. Dried blood spot samples (DBSS) were stored for 0, 1, 2, 3, 7, and 30 days at the same temperatures. 27 inflammatory markers in serum and plasma and 25 markers in DBSS were measured by a previously validated multiplex sandwich immunoassay using Luminex xMAP technology. The measurable concentrations of several cytokines in serum and plasma were significantly increased when blood samples were stored for a period of time before the centrifugation, for certain cytokines more than 1000 fold compared to serum and plasma isolated and frozen immediately after venepuncture. The concentrations in serum generally increased more than in plasma. The measurable concentrations of inflammatory markers also changed in DBSS stored under various conditions compared to controls frozen immediately after preparation, but to a much lesser degree than in plasma or serum. The study demonstrates that trustworthy measurement of several inflammatory markers relies on handling of whole blood samples at low temperatures and rapid isolation of plasma and serum. Effects of different handling procedures for all markers studied are given. DBSS proved to be a robust and convenient way to handle samples for immunoassay analysis of inflammatory markers in whole blood.

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Cytokines / blood*
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inflammation Mediators / blood*
  • Male
  • Specimen Handling / methods*
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Biomarkers
  • Cytokines
  • Inflammation Mediators