Strong impact on plasma protein profiles by precentrifugation delay but not by repeated freeze-thaw cycles, as analyzed using multiplex proximity extension assays

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BackgroundA number of factors regarding blood collection, handling and storage may affect sample quality. The purpose of this study was to assess the impact on plasma protein profiles by delayed centrifugation and plasma separation and multiple freeze-thaw cycles.MethodsBlood samples drawn from 16 healthy individuals were collected into ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid tubes and kept either at 4 °C or 22 °C for 1-36 h prior to centrifugation. Plasma samples prepared 1 h after venipuncture were also subjected to two to eight cycles of freezing at −80 °C and thawing at 22 °C. Multiplex proximity extension assay, an antibody-based protein assay, was used to investigate the influence on plasma proteins.ResultsUp to 36 h delay before blood centrifugation resulted in significant increases of 16 and 40 out of 139 detectable proteins in samples kept at 4 °C or 22 °C, respectively. Some increases became noticeable after 8 h delay at 4 °C but already after 1 h at 22 °C. For samples stored at 4 °C, epidermal growth factor (EGF), NF-kappa-B essential modulator, SRC, interleukin 16 and CD6 increased the most, whereas the five most significantly increased proteins after storage at 22 °C were CD40 antigen ligand (CD40-L), EGF, platelet-derived growth factor subunit B, C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 5 and matrix metallopeptidase 1 (MMP1). Only matrix metallopeptidase 7 (MMP7) decreased significantly over time and only after storage at 22 °C. No protein levels were found to be significantly affected by up to eight freeze-thaw cycles.ConclusionsPlasma should be prepared from blood after a limited precentrifugation delay at a refrigerated temperature. By contrast, the influence by several freeze-thaw cycles on detectable protein levels in plasma was negligible.

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