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Dis Markers. 2008;24(1):1-10.

Circulating VEGF as a biological marker in patients with rheumatoid arthritis? Preanalytical and biological variability in healthy persons and in patients.

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Department of Rheumatology, Copenhagen University Hospital, Hvidovre, Denmark.



Soluble vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) is a promising biomarker in monitoring rheumatoid arthritis (RA), but studies of pre-analytical and biologic variability are few.


VEGF was measured by ELISA methods in serum and plasma from healthy persons and RA patients. Pre-analytical factors were investigated. A reference interval for VEGF was established in serum and plasma from 306 healthy persons. Diurnal, day-to-day, week-to-week, long-term variability, and impact of exercise were evaluated.


Delayed processing time, room temperature, low centrifugal force and contamination of plasma with cellular elements lead to significant increases in VEGF levels, whereas storage for up to 2 years at -80 degrees C or up to 10 freeze/thaw cycles did not affect VEGF levels. Serum VEGF levels were 7-10 fold higher than plasma VEGF levels. Reference intervals for VEGF (plasma: 45 pg/ml (range: non-detectable to 352); serum: 328 pg/ml (53-1791)) were independent of gender and age. Short- and long-term biologic variability included diurnal variation (sampling should take place after 7 AM) and impact of exercise (increased VEGF immediately after bicycling normalised within 1 hour).


Pre-analytical factors and biologic variability including diurnal variation and impact of exercise should be accounted for in future studies that include circulating VEGF as a biological marker.

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