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Over 2.5 million neonatal dried blood spots (DBS) are stored at the Danish National Biobank. These samples offer extraordinary possibilities for metabolomics research, including prediction of disease and understanding of underlying molecular mechanisms of disease development. Nevertheless, Danish neonatal DBS have been little explored in metabolomics studies. One question that remains underinvestigated is the long-term stability of the large number of metabolites typically assessed in untargeted metabolomics over long time periods of storage. Here, we investigate temporal trends of metabolites measured in 200 neonatal DBS collected over a time course of 10 years, using an untargeted liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) based metabolomics protocol. We found that a majority (71%) of the metabolome was stable during 10 years of storage at -20 °C. However, we found decreasing trends for lipid-related metabolites, such as glycerophosphocholines and acylcarnitines. A few metabolites, including glutathione and methionine, may be strongly influenced by storage, with changes in metabolite levels up to 0.1-0.2 standard deviation units per year. Our findings indicate that untargeted metabolomics of DBS samples, with long-term storage in biobanks, is suitable for retrospective epidemiological studies. We identify metabolites whose stability in DBS should be closely monitored in future studies of DBS samples with long-term storage.

Original publication




Journal article


J Am Soc Mass Spectrom

Publication Date



Neonatal metabolome, biobank, dried blood spots, mass spectrometry, metabolomics