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Am J Phys Anthropol. 1997 Sep;104(1):1-21.

Hormone measures in finger-prick blood spot samples: new field methods for reproductive endocrinology.

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Department of Anthropology, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.


Comparative endocrine studies have notably advanced understanding of ecological factors that contribute to variation in human reproductive function. Such research has relied on methodological advances that permit hormone determinations in samples that are easily and safely collected, stored, and transported, most recently on measurement of steroids in saliva. This report seeks to further expand the scope of endocrine research by demonstrating the value of blood spot samples collected by finger prick. As a sampling strategy, finger-prick blood spot collection offers the advantages of short collection time, low invasiveness, repeatability, absence of postcollection processing, low biohazard risk, and ease of sample storage and transport. We document good sample stability and present sensitive assay methods for a range of steroids and proteins (FSH, LH, PRL, T, E2, DHEAS, androstenedione, cortisol, SHGB) in blood spots that require sample volumes of 3-12 microliters and display good reliability, specificity, precision, accuracy, and convertibility of results to plasma/serum equivalent concentrations. Laboratory evaluation was augmented by a feasibility study at a remote site in Papua New Guinea that confirmed validity and stability of blood spot collections under field conditions. Research applications of blood spot sampling are illustrated with a series of studies, including cross-sectional surveys for developmental and life span endocrinology, a longitudinal, population-based developmental epidemiologic study of puberty, and serial sampling in a dynamic study of neuroendocrine response to suckling. We conclude that the sampling features and wide range of measurable biomolecules of blood spots do constitute a methodological advance for endocrine research.

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