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the microsampling blog

how long can samples be stored before testing?

shutterstock_2528628.jpgHow long can a biological sample be stored before testing? It’s a complicated question. Answers are generally speculative and depend on a variety of factors.

Of what quality is the sample in question? For which analytes are you testing? If pre-analytical variables are controlled according to the best practices and quality assurance standards, and proper storage protocols are developed, some biosamples can be stored for years.

Human Tissue Samples

According to a 2016 study of the thyroid tumor samples from the Chernobyl Tissue Bank, tumor samples can, regarding RNA integrity, be stored at -80°C without degradation for at least eleven years. These findings are supplemented by the results of a study of 153 adrenal tissue samples (normal adrenal gland and various adrenal tumor tissues) stored at -80°C for up to 27 years. Samples exhibited an ‘‘acceptable’’ or ‘‘excellent’’ tissue morphology, with no correlation between the quality of RNA and time of storage. Similarly, RNA quality did not degrade in liver tissue samples after seven years at -80°C and -150°C; neither in brain autopsy tissue samples stored at -70°C for 15 years.


According to a long-term biobanking research of urine samples, urine without any preservatives can be stored at -22°C for over a decade without significant degradation. Measurement values after 12 years of storage did not differ from baseline values for more than half of analytes. Fifteen analytes exhibited high correlation between baseline and 12-year values, while the recovery rate of analytes with weak correlation did not drop under 70%.

Blood Samples

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