The concentration of nucleosomes is elevated in blood of patients with diseases which are associated with enhanced cell death. In order to detect these circulating nucleosomes, we used the Cell Death Detection-ELISAplus (CDDE) from Roche Diagnostics (Mannheim, Germany) (details at http:\\biochem.roche.com). For its application in liquid materials we performed various modifications: we introduced a standard curve with nucleosome-rich material, which enabled direct quantification and improved comparability of the values within (CVintraassay:3.0–4.1%) and between several runs (CVinterassay:8.6–13.5%), and tested the analytical specificity of the ELISA.
Because of the fast elimination of nucleosomes from circulation and their limited stability, we compared plasma and serum matrix and investigated in detail the pre-analytical handling of serum samples which can considerably influence the test results. Careless venipuncture producing hemolysis, delayed centrifugation and bacterial contamination of the blood samples led to false-positive results; delayed stabilization with EDTA and insufficient storage conditions resulted in false-negative values. At temperatures of −20 °C, serum samples which were treated with 10 mM EDTA were stable for at least 6 months. In order to avoid possible interfering factors, we recommend a schedule for the pre-analytical handling of the samples.
As the first stage, the possible clinical application was investigated in the sera of 310 persons. Patients with solid tumors (n=220; mean=361 Arbitrary Units (AU)) had considerably higher values than healthy persons (n=50; mean=30 AU; p=0.0001) and patients with inflammatory diseases (n=40; mean= 296 AU; p=0.096). Within the group of patients with tumors, those in advanced stages (UICC 4) showed significantly higher values than those in early stages (UICC 1–3) (p=0.0004).
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