Quantification of analytes such as cytokines in serum samples is intrinsic to translational research in immune diseases. Optimising pre-analytical conditions is critical for ensuring study quality, including evaluation of cytokine stability. We aimed to evaluate the effect on cytokine stability of storage duration prior to freezing of serum, and compare to plasma samples obtained from patients with systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). Protein stability was analysed by simultaneously quantifying 18 analytes using a custom multi-analyte profile in SLE patient serum and plasma samples that had been prospectively stored at 4 °C for pre-determined periods between 0 and 30 days, prior to freezing. Six analytes were excluded from analysis, because most tested samples were above or below the limit of detection. Amongst the 12 analysed proteins, 11 did not show significant signal degradation. Significant signal degradation was observed from the fourth day of storage for a single analyte, CCL19. Proteins levels were more stable in unseparated serum compared to plasma for most analytes, with the exception of IL-37 which appears slightly more stable in plasma. Based on this, a maximum 3 days of storage at 4 °C for unseparated serum samples is recommended for biobanked samples intended for cytokine analysis in studies of human immune disease.
- Storage duration