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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter December 19, 2016

The effect of storage temperature fluctuations on the stability of biochemical analytes in blood serum

  • Helmuth Haslacher ORCID logo , Thomas Szekeres , Marlene Gerner , Elisabeth Ponweiser , Manuela Repl , Oswald F. Wagner and Thomas Perkmann EMAIL logo



Irreproducibility of scientific results constitutes an undesirably onerous economic burden and is in many cases caused by low-quality materials. Therefore, researchers are increasingly devoting their attention to the bioresources they use. In turn, those bioresources are required to validate their preanalytical processes in order to ensure best possible quality. The present study thus aimed to evaluate the impact of repeated temperature fluctuations, as they occur in most research biobanks due to repetitive opening and closing of freezer doors, on the stability of 26 biochemical analytes.


Serum of 43 individuals was randomly assigned to a fluctuation (n=21) and a control group (n=22). Serum of the fluctuation group underwent controlled temperature fluctuations (30 fluctuations <−75°C – <−65°C – <−75°C under real-life freezer conditions within 21 days). Control sera were stored at constant conditions. After 10, 20, and 30 fluctuations, results derived from the fluctuation group were compared to baseline and to the control group by means of general linear models.


Sixteen biomarkers showed statistically significant changes over time, whereas only seven of those presented with diagnostically/clinically relevant changes at certain time points (aspartate aminotransferase, amylase, calcium, uric acid, creatinine, inorganic phosphate and total protein). However, there was no difference between the fluctuation and the control group.


Some serum analytes are influenced by storage, even at temperatures as low as <−70°C. In contrast, we found no evidence that complex temperature fluctuations produced by storage of and access to biospecimens in biobank freezers generate any additional variability.


This study was conducted in the framework of the MedUni Wien Biobank project (

  1. Author contributions: All the authors have accepted responsibility for the entire content of this submitted manuscript and approved submission.

  2. Research funding: None declared.

  3. Employment or leadership: None declared.

  4. Honorarium: None declared.

  5. Competing interests: The funding organization(s) played no role in the study design; in the collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; in the writing of the report; or in the decision to submit the report for publication.


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Received: 2016-7-8
Accepted: 2016-10-12
Published Online: 2016-12-19
Published in Print: 2017-6-27

©2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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