Implementation of lipidomics in clinical routine: Can fluoride/citrate blood sampling tubes improve preanalytical stability?

Talanta. 2020 Mar 1;209:120593. doi: 10.1016/j.talanta.2019.120593. Epub 2019 Nov 26.


The impact of preanalytical sample handling on lipid stability has been assessed in human plasma using targeted LC-MS/MS quantification of endocannabinoids, sphingolipids and LPA, complemented by non-targeted lipidomics screening with LC-QTOFMS. The study involved incubation of whole blood and plasma from healthy volunteers at room temperature or in ice water for time periods ranging from 20 min to 24 h. The impact of two different anticoagulants, K3EDTA and sodium fluoride/citrate, on lipid stability was evaluated. It was found that the concentrations determined for several endogenous lipids vary when whole blood and plasma samples are processed at room temperature, whereas the concentrations of most lipids were stable for 4 h in ice water. Surprisingly, the detected amounts of endocannabinoids 1- and 2-arachidonoyl glycerol and arachidonoyl ethanolamide increased markedly by 60, 95, and 30% in K3EDTA whole blood after storage in ice water for only 20 min. When using sodium fluoride/citrate blood collection tubes, the stability of several lipids, including that of the endocannabinoids, was improved. Accordingly, it is absolutely necessary to keep the blood sampling and plasma processing time below 1 h to avoid ex-vivo formation of endocannabinoids. It is worth mentioning that baseline lipid levels differ when using K3EDTA or sodium fluoride/citrate blood sampling tubes, which emphasizes the importance of traceability of reported plasma concentrations to the used anticoagulant.

Keywords: Ceramides; Endocannabinoids; Lipidomics; Lysophosphatidic acid; Mass spectrometry; Preanalytical stability.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Blood Specimen Collection / methods*
  • Chromatography, Liquid / methods
  • Citric Acid / chemistry
  • Endocannabinoids / blood*
  • Female
  • Fluorides / chemistry
  • Humans
  • Lipidomics / methods*
  • Lysophospholipids / blood*
  • Male
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Sphingolipids / blood*


  • Endocannabinoids
  • Lysophospholipids
  • Sphingolipids
  • Citric Acid
  • lysophosphatidic acid
  • Fluorides