Vascular endothelial growth factor-A (VEGF-A) is intensively investigated in various medical fields. However, comparing VEGF-A measurements is difficult because sample acquisition and pre-analytic procedures differ between studies. We therefore investigated which variables act as confounders of VEGF-A measurements.
Following a standardized protocol, blood was taken at three clinical sites from six healthy participants (one male and one female participant at each center) twice one week apart. The following pre-analytical parameters were varied in order to analyze their impact on VEGF-A measurements: analyzing center, anticoagulant (EDTA vs. PECT / CTAD), cannula (butterfly vs. neonatal), type of centrifuge (swing-out vs. fixed-angle), time before and after centrifugation, filling level (completely filled vs. half-filled tubes) and analyzing method (ELISA vs. multiplex bead array). Additionally, intrapersonal variations over time and sex differences were explored. Statistical analysis was performed using a linear regression model.
The following parameters were identified as statistically significant independent confounders of VEGF-A measurements: analyzing center, anticoagulant, centrifuge, analyzing method and sex of the proband. The following parameters were no significant confounders in our data set: intrapersonal variation over one week, cannula, time before and after centrifugation and filling level of collection tubes.
VEGF-A measurement results can be affected significantly by the identified pre-analytical parameters. We recommend the use of CTAD anticoagulant, a standardized type of centrifuge and one central laboratory using the same analyzing method for all samples.