Improved dried blood spot-based metabolomics: A targeted, broad-spectrum, single-injection method

Kefeng Li, Jane C. Naviaux, Jonathan M. Monk, Lin Wang, Robert K. Naviaux

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Citations (Scopus)


Dried blood spots (DBS) have proven to be a powerful sampling and storage method for newborn screening and many other applications. However, DBS methods have not yet been optimized for broad-spectrum targeted metabolomic analysis. In this study, we developed a robust, DBS-based, broad-spectrum, targeted metabolomic method that was able to measure over 400 metabolites from a 6.3 mm punch from standard Whatman 903™ filter paper cards. The effects of blood spot volumes, hematocrit, vacutainer chemistry, extraction methods, carryover, and comparability with plasma and fingerstick capillary blood samples were analyzed. The stability of over 400 metabolites stored under varying conditions over one year was also tested. No significant impacts of blood volume and hematocrit variations were observed when the spotted blood volume was over 60 μL and the hematocrit was between 31% and 50%. The median area under the curve (AUC) of metabolites in the DBS metabolome declined by 40% in the first 3 months and then did not decline further for at least 1 year. All originally detectable metabolites remained within detectable limits. The optimal storage conditions for metabolomic analysis were −80 °C with desiccants and without an O2 scavenger. The method was clinically validated for its potential utility in the diagnosis of the mitochondrial disease mitochondrial encephalomyopathy, lactic acidosis, and stroke-like episodes (MELAS). Our method provides a convenient alternative to freezing, storing, and shipping liquid blood samples for comparative metabolomic studies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number82
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Broad-Spectrum
  • Dried blood spots
  • Metabolomics
  • Targeted


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