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A review of blood sample handling and pre‐processing for metabolomics studies

Hernandes, Vinicius Veri, Barbas, Coral, Dudzik, Danuta
Electrophoresis 2017 v.38 no.18 pp. 2232-2241
biomarkers, blood, blood sampling, clinical trials, diagnostic techniques, disease detection, electrophoresis, experimental design, metabolomics, monitoring, prediction, storage conditions, therapeutics
Metabolomics has been found to be applicable to a wide range of clinical studies, bringing a new era for improving clinical diagnostics, early disease detection, therapy prediction and treatment efficiency monitoring. A major challenge in metabolomics, particularly untargeted studies, is the extremely diverse and complex nature of biological specimens. Despite great advances in the field there still exist fundamental needs for considering pre‐analytical variability that can introduce bias to the subsequent analytical process and decrease the reliability of the results and moreover confound final research outcomes. Many researchers are mainly focused on the instrumental aspects of the biomarker discovery process, and sample related variables sometimes seem to be overlooked. To bridge the gap, critical information and standardized protocols regarding experimental design and sample handling and pre‐processing are highly desired. Characterization of a range variation among sample collection methods is necessary to prevent results misinterpretation and to ensure that observed differences are not due to an experimental bias caused by inconsistencies in sample processing. Herein, a systematic discussion of pre‐analytical variables affecting metabolomics studies based on blood derived samples is performed. Furthermore, we provide a set of recommendations concerning experimental design, collection, pre‐processing procedures and storage conditions as a practical review that can guide and serve for the standardization of protocols and reduction of undesirable variation.