Serum is the liquid fraction of whole blood that is collected after the blood is allowed to clot. The clot is removed by centrifugation and the resulting supernatant, designated serum, is carefully removed using a Pasteur pipette. Plasma is produced when whole blood is collected in tubes that are treated with an anticoagulant. The blood does not clot in the plasma tube. The cells are removed by centrifugation. The supernatant, designated plasma is carefully removed from the cell pellet using a Pasteur pipette.
Collect whole blood in a covered test tube. If commercially available tubes are to be used, the researcher should use the red topped tubes. These are available from Becton Dickinson (BD). BD’s trade name for the blood handling tubes is Vacutainer. After collection of the whole blood, allow the blood to clot by leaving it undisturbed at room temperature. This usually takes 15-30 minutes. Remove the clot by centrifuging at 1,000-2,000 x g for 10 minutes in a refrigerated centrifuge.
The resulting supernatant is designated serum. Following centrifugation, it is important to immediately transfer the liquid component (serum) into a clean polypropylene tube using a Pasteur pipette. The samples should be maintained at 2-8°C while handling. If the serum is not analyzed immediately, the serum should be apportioned into 0.5 ml aliquots, stored, and transported at –20°C or lower. It is important to avoid freeze-thaw cycles because this is detrimental to many serum components. Samples which are hemolyzed, icteric or lipemic can invalidate certain tests.
Collect whole blood into commercially available anticoagulant-treated tubes e.g., EDTA-treated (lavender tops) or citrate-treated (light blue tops). Heparinized tubes (green tops) are indicated for some applications; however, heparin can often be contaminated with endotoxin, which can stimulate white blood cells to release cytokines. Cells are removed from plasma by centrifugation for 10 minutes at 1,000-2,000 x g using a refrigerated centrifuge. Centrifugation for 15 minutes at 2,000 x g depletes platelets in the plasma sample.
The resulting supernatant is designated plasma. Following centrifugation, it is important to immediately transfer the liquid component (plasma) into a clean polypropylene tube using a Pasteur pipette. The samples should be maintained at 2-8°C while handling. If the plasma is not analyzed immediately, the plasma should be apportioned into 0.5 ml aliquots, stored, and transported at –20°C or lower. It is important to avoid freeze-thaw cycles. Samples which are hemolyzed, icteric, or lipemic can invalidate certain tests. There are other commercially available tubes for blood sample collection. Invitrogen™ has not evaluated some of these tubes for compatibility with our ELISA kits.