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Ann Clin Biochem. 2011 May;48(Pt 3):218-22. doi: 10.1258/acb.2010.010230. Epub 2011 Mar 11.

Centrifugation protocols: tests to determine optimal lithium heparin and citrate plasma sample quality.

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Pathology Queensland, Department of Chemical Pathology, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia.



Currently, no clear guidelines exist for the most appropriate tests to determine sample quality from centrifugation protocols for plasma sample types with both lithium heparin in gel barrier tubes for biochemistry testing and citrate tubes for coagulation testing.


Blood was collected from 14 participants in four lithium heparin and one serum tube with gel barrier. The plasma tubes were centrifuged at four different centrifuge settings and analysed for potassium (K(+)), lactate dehydrogenase (LD), glucose and phosphorus (Pi) at zero time, poststorage at six hours at 21 °C and six days at 2-8°C. At the same time, three citrate tubes were collected and centrifuged at three different centrifuge settings and analysed immediately for prothrombin time/international normalized ratio, activated partial thromboplastin time, derived fibrinogen and surface-activated clotting time (SACT).


The biochemistry analytes indicate plasma is less stable than serum. Plasma sample quality is higher with longer centrifugation time, and much higher g force. Blood cells present in the plasma lyse with time or are damaged when transferred in the reaction vessels, causing an increase in the K(+), LD and Pi above outlined limits. The cells remain active and consume glucose even in cold storage. The SACT is the only coagulation parameter that was affected by platelets >10 × 10(9)/L in the citrate plasma.


In addition to the platelet count, a limited but sensitive number of assays (K(+), LD, glucose and Pi for biochemistry, and SACT for coagulation) can be used to determine appropriate centrifuge settings to consistently obtain the highest quality lithium heparin and citrate plasma samples. The findings will aid laboratories to balance the need to provide the most accurate results in the best turnaround time.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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