Many emerging technologies are reliant on circulating cell-free DNA (cfDNA) and cell-free RNA (cfRNA) applications in the clinic. However, the impact of diurnal cycles or daily meals on circulating analytes are poorly understood and may be confounding factors when developing diagnostic platforms. To begin addressing this knowledge gap, we obtained plasma from four healthy donors serially sampled five times during 12 h in a single day. For all samples, we measured concentrations of cfDNA and cfRNA using both bulk measurements and gene-specific digital droplet PCR. We found no significant variation attributed to blood draw number for the cfDNA or cfRNA. This indicated that natural diurnal cycles and meal consumption do not appear to significantly affect abundance of total cfDNA, total cfRNA, or our two selected cfRNA transcripts. Conversely, we observed significant variation between individual donors for cfDNA and one of the cfRNA transcripts. The results of this work suggest that it will be important to consider patient-specific baselines when designing reliable circulating cfDNA or cfRNA clinical assays.
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