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Impact of pre-analytical sample handling factors on plasma biomarkers of Alzheimer's disease.

J Neurochem. 2023 Jan 10. doi: 10.1111/jnc.15757. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 36625424.

Authors/Editors: Kurz C, Stöckl L, Schrurs I, Suridjan I, Gürsel SÜ, Bittner T, Jethwa A, Perneczky R.
Publication Date: 2023



An unmet need exists for reliable plasma biomarkers of amyloid pathology, in the clinical laboratory setting, to streamline diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD). For routine clinical use, a biomarker must provide robust and reliable results under pre-analytical sample handling conditions. We investigated the impact of different pre-analytical sample handling procedures on the levels of seven plasma biomarkers in development for potential routine use in AD. Using (1) fresh (never frozen) and (2) previously frozen plasma, we evaluated the effects of (A) storage time and temperature, (B) freeze/thaw (F/T) cycles, (C) anticoagulants, (D) tube transfer, and (E) plastic tube types. Blood samples were prospectively collected from patients with cognitive impairment undergoing investigation in a memory clinic. β-amyloid 1-40 (Aβ40), β-amyloid 1-42 (Aβ42), apolipoprotein E4, glial fibrillary acidic protein, neurofilament light chain, phosphorylated-tau (phospho-tau) 181, and phospho-tau-217 were measured using Elecsys® plasma prototype immunoassays. Recovery signals for each plasma biomarker and sample handling parameter were calculated. For all plasma biomarkers measured, pre-analytical effects were comparable between fresh (never frozen) and previously frozen samples. All plasma biomarkers tested were stable for ≤24 h at 4°C when stored as whole blood and ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) plasma. Recovery signals were acceptable for up to five tube transfers, or two F/T cycles, and in both polypropylene and low-density polyethylene tubes. For all plasma biomarkers except Aβ42 and Aβ40, analyte levels were largely comparable between EDTA, lithium heparin, and sodium citrate tubes. Aβ42 and Aβ40 were most sensitive to pre-analytical handling, and the effects could only be partially compensated by the Aβ42/Aβ40 ratio. We provide recommendations for an optimal sample handling protocol for analysis of plasma biomarkers for amyloid pathology AD, to improve the reproducibility of future studies on plasma biomarkers assays and for potential use in routine clinical practice.

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