Comparison of ex vivo stability of copeptin and vasopressin

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Copeptin, part of the vasopressin precursor, is increasingly used as marker for vasopressin and is claimed to have better ex vivo stability. However, no study has directly compared the ex vivo stability of copeptin and vasopressin.


Blood of ten healthy volunteers was collected in EDTA tubes. Next, we studied the effect of various pre-analytical conditions on measured vasopressin and copeptin levels: centrifugation speed, short-term storage temperature and differences between whole blood and plasma, long-term storage temperature and repeated freezing and thawing. The acceptable change limit (ACL), indicating the maximal percentage change that can be explained by assay variability, was used as cut-off to determine changes in vasopressin and copeptin.


The ACL was 25% for vasopressin and 19% for copeptin. Higher centrifugation speed resulted in lower vasopressin levels, whereas copeptin concentration was unaffected. In whole blood, vasopressin was stable up to 2 h at 25°C and 6 h at 4°C. In plasma, vasopressin was stable up to 6 h at 25°C and 24 h at 4°C. In contrast, copeptin was stable in whole blood and plasma for at least 24h at both temperatures. At -20°C, vasopressin was stable up to 1 month and copeptin for at least 4 months. Both vasopressin and copeptin were stable after 4 months when stored at -80°C and -150°C. Vasopressin concentration decreased after four freeze-thaw cycles, whereas copeptin concentration was unaffected.


Vasopressin levels were considerably affected by pre-analytical conditions, while copeptin levels were stable. Therefore, a strict sample handling protocol for measurement of vasopressin is recommended.

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