OBJECTIVE: The term "dried blood spot" (DBS) refers to a sampling technique in which capillary whole blood is spotted on filter paper. Given the possibility to determine a wide range of hormones and related biomarkers in DBS, the method should be of interest to researchers in psychoneuroendocrinology. So far, however, the how and when of using DBS in this context have not been outlined.
METHODS: A review of the literature was conducted in order to describe the materials and procedures necessary to determine relevant biological markers from DBS (how to use DBS). In addition, a comparison of the DBS method with other sampling techniques was undertaken and examples of its previous use in psychoneuroendocrinology were provided (when to use DBS).
RESULTS: Both dyadic and DBS self-sampling are feasible, and a number of protocols are available to determine endocrine and immune, genetic and epigenetic markers. Decisions to use DBS instead of venous blood or saliva sampling should mainly be guided by whether it is sensible and feasible to determine the parameter of interest in whole blood obtained from DBS. In addition, DBS are well suited for large study populations with specific vulnerabilities, and for remotely located studies with budgetary constraints.
CONCLUSION: Dried blood spots are a promising material as well as a simple sampling technique for psychoneuroendocrinological research. Future efforts should be directed at continuing to adapt existing serum and plasma analysis protocols for use with DBS, and at testing the feasibility of DBS self-sampling in field studies.