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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Fundamentals of Molecular Diagnostics. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Specimen Collection and Handling

Some global specimen collection and handling issues to consider include:
  • Specimens that contain nucleated cells will be of interest in DNA methodologies while specimens lacking nucleated cells are more useful in RNA methodologies.
  • rRNA is more stable than mRNA, which is labile and sensitive to contamination.
  • DNA is relatively stable and can be obtained from nonviable sources.
  • Serum or plasma obtained by standard routine venipuncture procedures can be used as long as proper site selection and decontamination occur.
  • Standard anticoagulants such as Ethylenediaminetetraacetic Acid (EDTA) and Acid Citrate Dextrose (ACD) can be used; however avoid the use of heparin as an anticoagulant as it interferes with some polymerase chain reaction (PCR) methodologies.
  • When using fluorescence, fasting serum or whole blood specimens should be used to decrease the interference by lipids.