Stability of common biochemical analytes in serum gel tubes subjected to various storage temperatures and times pre-centrifugation

Ann Clin Biochem 2008;45:375-379
© 2008 Association for Clinical Biochemistry


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Original Articles

Melissa Tanner1,
Neil Kent1,
Brian Smith2,
Stephen Fletcher1 and
Michelle Lewer1

1 Department of Clinical Biochemistry, PathWest Laboratory Medicine WA, QEII, Nedlands, Western Australia 6009;
2 BD Diagnostics, Pre-analtyical Systems, Wembley, Australia 6014

Corresponding author: Dr M Tanner. Email: Melissa.Tanner{at}

Background: Blood samples collected in rural and remote areas of Australasiaare often exposed to a range of environmental conditions priorto analysis in a laboratory. The aim of this study was to determineanalyte stability of venous blood specimens in serum gel tubesexposed to a range of storage temperatures and times prior tocentrifugation.

Methods: Thirty healthy adult volunteers were enrolled in the study.Blood was collected into 11 serum gel separator tubes. All sampleswere allowed to clot at room temperature for 30 min. Two sampleswere centrifuged and analysed as controls. Nine samples werestored at 15, 25 or 35°C for 4, 8 or 24 h, respectively,before centrifugation. Thirty-five biochemical analytes weremeasured on each sample.

Results: Most analytes remained stable in all storage conditions including sodium, total protein, albumin, bilirubin, alanine transferase, aspartate aminotransferase, alkaline phosphatase, gamma glutamyl transferase, creatinine kinase, lipase, cholesterol, triglycerides, transferrin, urate, C-reactive protein, vitamin B12, thyroid-stimulatinghormone, free thyroxine, free triiodothyronine, follicle-stimulatinghormone, oestradiol, prostate-specific antigen, cortisol andvitamin D. Potassium, glucose, phosphate, creatinine, urea,ferritin, iron, lactate dehydrogenase, magnesium and calciumwere not stable in at least one of the storage conditions.

Conclusions: These results can be used to determine which analytes producevalid results despite exposure to variable storage conditionsfor up to 24 h prior to centrifugation. The majority of analyteswere unaffected by a delay in centrifugation at a variety oftemperatures, however, some important analytes were significantlyaffected.

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