Serum and plasma are commonly used in metabolomic-epidemiology studies. Their metabolome is susceptible to differences in pre-analytical conditions and the impact of this is unclear. Participant-matched EDTA-plasma and serum samples were collected from 37 non-fasting volunteers and profiled using a targeted nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) metabolomics platform (n = 151 traits). Correlations and differences in mean of metabolite concentrations were compared between reference (pre-storage: 4 °C, 1.5 h; post-storage: no buffer addition delay or NMR analysis delay) and four pre-storage blood processing conditions, where samples were incubated at (i) 4 °C, 24 h; (ii) 4 °C, 48 h; (iii) 21 °C, 24 h; and (iv) 21 °C, 48 h, before centrifugation; and two post-storage sample processing conditions in which samples thawed overnight (i) then left for 24 h before addition of sodium buffer followed by immediate NMR analysis; and (ii) addition of sodium buffer, then left for 24 h before NMR profiling. We used multilevel linear regression models and Spearman’s rank correlation coefficients to analyse the data. Most metabolic traits had high rank correlation and minimal differences in mean concentrations between samples subjected to reference and the different conditions tested, that may commonly occur in studies. However, glycolysis metabolites, histidine, acetate and diacylglycerol concentrations may be compromised and this could bias results in association/causal analyses.
- Nuclear magnetic resonance
- Pre-analytical phase