Analytical biochemistry

Evaluating the effects of preanalytical variables on the stability of the human plasma proteome.

PMID 25769420


High quality clinical biospecimens are vital for biomarker discovery, verification, and validation. Variations in blood processing and handling can affect protein abundances and assay reliability. Using an untargeted LC-MS approach, we systematically measured the impact of preanalytical variables on the plasma proteome. Time prior to processing was the only variable that affected the plasma protein levels. LC-MS quantification showed that preprocessing times <6h had minimal effects on the immunodepleted plasma proteome, but by 4 days significant changes were apparent. Elevated levels of many proteins were observed, suggesting that in addition to proteolytic degradation during the preanalytical phase, changes in protein structure are also important considerations for protocols using antibody depletion. As to processing variables, a comparison of single- vs double-spun plasma showed minimal differences. After processing, the impact ⩽3 freeze-thaw cycles was negligible regardless of whether freshly collected samples were processed in short succession or the cycles occurred during 14-17 years of frozen storage (-80 °C). Thus, clinical workflows that necessitate modest delays in blood processing times or employ different centrifugation steps can yield valuable samples for biomarker discovery and verification studies.