Effects of Transport and Storage Conditions on Gene Expression in Blood Samples

Francesca Malentacchi, Sara Pizzamiglio, Ralf Wyrich, Paolo Verderio, Chiara Ciniselli, Mario Pazzagli, Stefania Gelmini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Inappropriate handling of blood samples might induce or repress gene expression and/or lead to RNA degradation affecting downstream analysis. In particular, sample transport is a critical step for biobanking or multicenter studies because of uncontrolled variables (i.e., unstable temperature). We report the results of a pilot study implemented within the EC funded SPIDIA project, aimed to investigate the role of transport and storage of blood samples containing and not containing an RNA stabilizer. Methods: Blood was collected from a single donor both in EDTA and in PAXgene Blood RNA tubes. Half of the samples were sent to a second laboratory both at room temperature and at 4°C, whereas the remaining samples were stored at room temperature and at 4°C. Gene expression of selected genes (c-FOS, IL-1β, IL-8, and GAPDH) known to be induced or repressed by ex vivo blood handling and of blood-mRNA quality biomarkers identified and validated within the SPIDIA project, which allow for monitoring changes in unstabilized blood samples after collection and during transport and storage, were analyzed by RT-qPCR. Results: If the shipment of blood in tubes not containing RNA stabilizer is not performed under a stable condition, gene profile studies can be affected by the effects of transport. Moreover, also controlled temperature shipment (4°C) can influence the expression of specific genes if blood is collected in tubes not containing a stabilizer. Conclusion: The use of dedicated biomarkers or time course experiments should be performed in order to verify potential bias on gene expression analysis due to sample shipment and storage conditions. Alternatively, the use of RNA stabilizer containing tubes can represent a reliable option to avoid ex vivo RNA changes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-128
Number of pages7
JournalBiopreservation and Biobanking
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Cell Biology


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