Elife. 2021 Nov 9;10:e69679. doi: 10.7554/eLife.69679.
Research and clinical use of circulating cell-free DNA (cirDNA) is expanding rapidly; however, there remain large gaps in our understanding of the influence of lifestyle and biological factors on the amount of cirDNA present in blood. Here, we review 66 individual studies of cirDNA levels and lifestyle and biological factors, including exercise (acute and chronic), alcohol consumption, occupational hazard exposure, smoking, body mass index, menstruation, hypertension, circadian rhythm, stress, biological sex and age. Despite technical and methodological inconsistences across studies, we identify acute exercise as a significant influence on cirDNA levels. Given the large increase in cirDNA induced by acute exercise, we recommend that controlling for physical activity prior to blood collection is routinely incorporated into study design when total cirDNA levels are of interest. We also highlight appropriate selection and complete reporting of laboratory protocols as important for improving the reproducibility cirDNA studies and ability to critically evaluate the results.
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