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01.12.2019 | Methodology | Ausgabe 1/2019 Open Access

Journal of Translational Medicine 1/2019

Purification of viable peripheral blood mononuclear cells for biobanking using a robotized liquid handling workstation

Journal of Translational Medicine > Ausgabe 1/2019
Luigi Coppola, Giovanni Smaldone, Alessandra Cianflone, Simona Baselice, Peppino Mirabelli, Marco Salvatore
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Supplementary information

Supplementary information accompanies this paper at https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12967-019-2125-7.

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The purification of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) by means of density gradient (1.07 g/mL) centrifugation is one of the most commonly used methods in diagnostics and research laboratories as well as in biobanks. Here, we evaluated whether it was possible to set up an automated protocol for PBMC purification using a programmable liquid handling robotized workstation (Tecan, Freedom EVO 150). We selected a population composed of 30 subjects for whom it was possible to dispose of two ethylenediaminetetraacetic acid (EDTA) vacutainer tubes containing unfractionated peripheral blood. The purification of PBMCs was performed in parallel using automated and manual workflows.


An automated workflow using the Freedom EVO 150 liquid handling workstation was generated for the isolation of PBMCs. This protocol allowed blood dilution in Dulbecco’s phosphate-buffered saline (DPBS), stratification onto the density gradient, and the collection of PBMC rings after centrifugation. The comparison between the automated and manual methods revealed no significant differences after separation in terms of total mononuclear cell enrichment, red blood cell contamination, or leucocyte formula, including the percentage of lymphoid subpopulations as B, T and natural killer (NK) lymphocytes.


Our results show that it is possible to set up an automated protocol for the isolation of PBMCs using a robotized liquid handling workstation. This automated protocol provided comparable results to the routinely used manual method. This automatic method could be of interest for those working in biobanking or industries involved in diagnostics and therapeutics field, to avoid operator-dependent errors as well as procedures standardization.
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