Biopreservation and biobanking

Siege of Leningrad Survivors Phenotyping and Biospecimen Collection.

PMID 26417917


Poor nutrition during the early stages of human development can lead to rare pathological conditions in adult life. The best-known and most severe historical cases of famine include the Dutch 'Hunger Winter,' the Finnish famine, the Chinese Great famine, and the siege of Leningrad. The siege of Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) was one of the longest in history, lasting 872 days, from September 8, 1941 to January 27, 1944. There were 670,000 registered deaths of the civil population, in which 97% died due to starvation. The aim of the present study is to create a collection of biospecimens from extensively phenotyped siege of Leningrad survivors, who underwent starvation during the early periods of their lives, and from a matched control group. A total 305 siege survivors and 51 age- and sex- matched control subjects were investigated in of an observational retroprospective cohort study in 2009-2011 at a baseline visit. After 3 years of follow-up, 252 siege survivors (182 females and 70 males; mean age 74.7 ± 2.6 years) and 45 controls (32 females and 13 males; mean age 75.5 ± 2.8 years) were examined. All siege survivors were exposed to the extreme dietary restriction and stress associated with the siege in their early childhood. All participants signed informed consent and were subject to questionnaires and physical examination, as well as various laboratory and instrumental tests. Anthropometry, blood measurement, cognitive and physiological testing, and vascular damage assessment were performed. Blood specimens of the extensively phenotyped siege survivors were collected and processed (blood plasma, blood serum, and flash-frozen PBMC); serum and urine were used for laboratory tests. We believe that data obtained from this unique collection of biospecimens can elucidate the mechanisms of healthy aging and emphasize the importance of reproductive health, counseling, and monitoring among people with eating disorders.