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J Thromb Haemost. 2012 Dec;10(12):2544-54. doi: 10.1111/jth.12012.

Preanalytic variables of thrombin generation: towards a standard procedure and validation of the method.

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  • 1Department of Internal Medicine, Laboratory for Clinical Thrombosis and Hemostasis, Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht, Maastricht University Medical Center, Maastricht, The Netherlands.



Thrombin generation assays are sensitive methods for assessment of the overall clotting potential of plasma, but, despite their common use in thrombosis research, standardization of preanalytic conditions is lacking. In order to set up a standardized protocol, we analyzed different preanalytic variables and validated the calibrated automated thrombogram method.


Thrombin generation was assessed with 0, 1 and 5 pm tissue factor (TF). Variations in thrombin generation were mostly attributable to the type of collection tube, mainly because of variations in contact activation. The collection tube also determined the influence of other preanalytic variables on thrombin generation, e.g. the need for a discard tube, the storage of whole blood, and the centrifugation method. Regarding the collection system, blood drawn through intravenous catheters or butterfly needles showed significantly more hemolysis than blood obtained with venipuncture using conventional needles. The results showed that a discard tube is still needed for thrombin generation measurements. After blood collection, whole blood is best centrifuged immediately, to prevent activation or degradation of coagulation proteins, and a second centrifugation step at 10,000 × g is recommended. After thawing, plasma is best analyzed immediately, as storage resulted in thrombin generation results outside the 10% range of the reference sample. On the basis of these results, we set up an in-house standardized protocol, which was used for validation, resulting in coefficients of variations of < 15% for all derived parameters with both the 1 and 5 pm TF triggers.


Thrombin generation was greatly influenced by preanalytic conditions, demonstrating the need for an international standardized protocol.

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