Dried Blood Spot RNA Transcriptomes Correlate with Transcriptomes Derived from Whole Blood RNA.


Obtaining RNA from clinical samples collected in resource-limited settings can be costly and challenging. The goals of this study were to 1) optimize messenger RNA extraction from dried blood spots (DBS) and 2) determine how transcriptomes generated from DBS RNA compared with whole blood RNA isolated from blood collected in Tempus tubes. We studied paired samples collected from eight adults in rural Tanzania. Venous blood was collected on Whatman 903 Protein Saver cards and in tubes with RNA preservation solution. Our optimal DBS RNA extraction used 8 × 3-mm DBS punches as the starting material, bead beater disruption at maximum speed for 60 seconds, extraction with Illustra RNAspin Mini RNA Isolation kit, and purification with Zymo RNA Concentrator kit. Spearman correlations of normalized gene counts in DBS versus whole blood ranged from 0.887 to 0.941. Bland-Altman plots did not show a trend toward over- or under-counting at any gene size. We report a method to obtain sufficient RNA from DBS to generate a transcriptome. The DBS transcriptome gene counts correlated well with whole blood transcriptome gene counts. Dried blood spot for transcriptome studies could be an option when field conditions preclude appropriate collection, storage, or transport of whole blood for RNA studies.