Most blood biomarkers related to vitamin status, one-carbon metabolism, and the kynurenine pathway show adequate preanalytical stability and within-person reproducibility to allow assessment of exposure or nutritional status in healthy women and cardiovascular patients.
Knowledge of stability during sample transportation and changes in biomarker concentrations within person over time are paramount for proper design and interpretation of epidemiologic studies based on a single measurement of biomarker status. Therefore, we investigated stability and intraindividual vs. interindividual variation in blood concentrations of biomarkers related to vitamin status, one-carbon metabolism, and the kynurenine pathway. Whole blood (EDTA and heparin, n = 12) was stored with an icepack for 24 or 48 h, and plasma concentrations of 38 biomarkers were determined. Stability was calculated as change per hour, intraclass correlation coefficient (ICC), and simple Spearman correlation. Within-person reproducibility of biomarkers was expressed as ICC in samples collected 1-2 y apart from 40 postmenopausal women and in samples collected up to 3 y apart from 551 patients with stable angina pectoris. Biomarker stability was similar in EDTA and heparin blood. Most biomarkers were essentially stable, except for choline and total homocysteine (tHcy), which increased markedly. Within-person reproducibility in postmenopausal women was excellent (ICC > 0.75) for cotinine, all-trans retinol, cobalamin, riboflavin, α-tocopherol, Gly, pyridoxal, methylmalonic acid, creatinine, pyridoxal 5'-phosphate, and Ser; was good to fair (ICC of 0.74-0.40) for pyridoxic acid, kynurenine, tHcy, cholecalciferol, flavin mononucleotide, kynurenic acid, xanthurenic acid, 3-hydroxykynurenine, sarcosine, anthranilic acid, cystathionine, homoarginine, 3-hydroxyanthranilic acid, betaine, Arg, folate, total cysteine, dimethylglycine, asymmetric dimethylarginine, neopterin, symmetric dimethylarginine, and Trp; and poor (ICC of 0.39-0.15) for methionine sulfoxide, Met, choline, and trimethyllysine. Similar reproducibilities were observed in patients with coronary heart disease. Thus, most biomarkers investigated were essentially stable in cooled whole blood for up to 48 h and had a sufficient within-person reproducibility to allow one-exposure assessment of biomarker status in epidemiologic studies. The Western Norway B Vitamin Intervention Trial was registered at clinicaltrials.gov as NTC00354081.