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Author Notes:

Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to A.J.M. (email: adam.j.mitchell@emory.edu) or C.D.S. (email: csearle@emory.edu).

Please see the full article for author contributions.

We would like to thank the Center for Discovery Health and Well Being (CDHWB) for providing us with plasma samples and the Emory+Children’s Pediatric Research Center Flow Cytometry Core.

The authors declare no competing financial interests.


Research Funding:

Research reported in this publication was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health (R01HL109559 (CDS), NIH R01HL124879 (CDS), T32HL007745 (WDG)). This work was supported by NIH T32HL069769 (JR); NIH VA Merit I01BX000704 (CDS); AHA 15SFDRN25220002 (CDS).


  • Science & Technology
  • Multidisciplinary Sciences
  • Diagnostic markers
  • Predictive markers

Platelets confound the measurement of extracellular miRNA in archived plasma


Journal Title:

Scientific Reports


Volume 6


, Pages 32651-32651

Type of Work:

Article | Final Publisher PDF


Extracellular miRNAs are detectable in biofluids and represent a novel class of disease biomarker. Although many studies have utilized archived plasma for miRNA biomarker discovery, the effects of processing and storage have not been rigorously studied. Previous reports have suggested plasma samples are commonly contaminated by platelets, significantly confounding the measurement of extracellular miRNA, which was thought to be easily addressed by additional post-thaw plasma processing. In a case-control study of archived plasma, we noted a significant correlation between miRNA levels and platelet counts despite post-thaw processing. We thus examined the effects of a single freeze/thaw cycle on microparticles (MPs) and miRNA levels, and show that a single freeze/thaw cycle of plasma dramatically increases the number of platelet-derived MPs, contaminates the extracellular miRNA pool, and profoundly affects the levels of miRNAs detected. The measurement of extracellular miRNAs in archived samples is critically dependent on the removal of residual platelets prior to freezing plasma samples. Many previous clinical studies of extracellular miRNA in archived plasma should be interpreted with caution and future studies should avoid the effects of platelet contamination.

Copyright information:

© The Author(s) 2016.

This is an Open Access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
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