Preanalytical Biases in the Measurement of Human Blood Sphingolipids

Int J Mol Sci. 2018 May 7;19(5):1390. doi: 10.3390/ijms19051390.


Dysregulation of blood sphingolipids is an emerging topic in clinical science. The objective of this study was to determine preanalytical biases that typically occur in clinical and translational studies and that influence measured blood sphingolipid levels. Therefore, we collected blood samples from four healthy male volunteers to investigate the effect of storage conditions (time, temperature, long-term storage, freeze⁻thaw cycles), blood drawing (venous or arterial sampling, prolonged venous compression), and sample preparation (centrifugation, freezing) on sphingolipid levels measured by LC-MS/MS. Our data show that sphingosine 1-phosphate (S1P) and sphinganine 1-phosphate (SA1P) were upregulated in whole blood samples in a time- and temperature-dependent manner. Increased centrifugation at higher speeds led to lower amounts of S1P and SA1P. All other preanalytical biases did not significantly alter the amounts of S1P and SA1P. Further, in almost all settings, we did not detect differences in (dihydro)ceramide levels. In summary, besides time-, temperature-, and centrifugation-dependent changes in S1P and SA1P levels, sphingolipids in blood remained stable under practically relevant preanalytical conditions.

Keywords: blood; ceramides; dihydroceramides; sphinganine 1-phosphate; sphingolipids; sphingosine 1-phosphate.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Preservation* / methods
  • Blood Specimen Collection* / methods
  • Ceramides / blood
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Humans
  • Lysophospholipids / blood
  • Male
  • Sphingolipids / blood*
  • Sphingosine / analogs & derivatives
  • Sphingosine / blood
  • Tandem Mass Spectrometry* / methods
  • Young Adult


  • Ceramides
  • Lysophospholipids
  • Sphingolipids
  • dihydrosphingosine 1-phosphate
  • sphingosine 1-phosphate
  • Sphingosine