Influence of collection tubes during quantitative targeted metabolomics studies in human blood samples
Del Greco M F
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BACKGROUND: Plasma and serum are the most widely used matrices in clinical studies. However, some variability in absolute concentrations of metabolites are likely to be observed in these collection tubes matrices. METHODS: We analyzed 189 metabolites using the same protocol for quantitative targeted metabolomics (LC-MS/MS AbsoluteIDQ p180 Kit Biocrates) in three types of samples, serum, plasma EDTA and citrate, of 80 subjects from the Cooperative Health Research In South Tyrol cohort (40 healthy elderly and 40 healthy young). RESULTS: The concentration levels were higher in serum than citrate and EDTA, in particular for amino acids and biogenic amines. The average Pearson's correlation coefficients were however always higher than 0.7 for these two classes of metabolites. We could also demonstrate that blank EDTA vacutainer tubes contain a significant amount of sarcosine. Finally, we compared the metabolome of young people against elderly subjects and found that the highest number of metabolites significantly changing with age was detected in serum. CONCLUSION: Serum samples provide higher sensitivity for biomarker discovery studies. Due to the presence of spurious amount of sarcosine in vacutainer EDTA tubes, plasma EDTA is not suitable for studies requiring accurate quantification of sarcosine.