Ex vivo instability of lipids in whole blood: preanalytical recommendations for clinical lipidomics studies

J Lipid Res. 2023 Jun;64(6):100378. doi: 10.1016/j.jlr.2023.100378. Epub 2023 Apr 21.


Reliability, robustness, and interlaboratory comparability of quantitative measurements is critical for clinical lipidomics studies. Lipids' different ex vivo stability in blood bears the risk of misinterpretation of data. Clear recommendations for the process of blood sample collection are required. We studied by UHPLC-high resolution mass spectrometry, as part of the "Preanalytics interest group" of the International Lipidomics Society, the stability of 417 lipid species in EDTA whole blood after exposure to either 4°C, 21°C, or 30°C at six different time points (0.5 h-24 h) to cover common daily routine conditions in clinical settings. In total, >800 samples were analyzed. 325 and 288 robust lipid species resisted 24 h exposure of EDTA whole blood to 21°C or 30°C, respectively. Most significant instabilities were detected for FA, LPE, and LPC. Based on our data, we recommend cooling whole blood at once and permanent. Plasma should be separated within 4 h, unless the focus is solely on robust lipids. Lists are provided to check the ex vivo (in)stability of distinct lipids and potential biomarkers of interest in whole blood. To conclude, our results contribute to the international efforts towards reliable and comparable clinical lipidomics data paving the way to the proper diagnostic application of distinct lipid patterns or lipid profiles in the future.

Keywords: Clinical lipidomics; blood; lipid stability; preanalytical; sample collection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Edetic Acid
  • Lipidomics* / methods
  • Lipids* / chemistry
  • Mass Spectrometry / methods
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Lipids
  • Edetic Acid