Fasting blood was collected in 9-mL K3-EDTA tubes (455036, Greiner Bio-one GmbH, Kremsmünster, Austria), which were gently inverted three times immediately following blood collection. Blood samples were then centrifuged at 2,300 g for 10 min (4°C) using a swing-out (bucket) rotor (5202R, Eppendorf, Hamburg, Germany). Each 0.4-mL plasma sample was transferred to a fresh 2.0-mL tube (CryzoTraq, Ziath, Cambridge, United Kingdom). All plasma samples were stored in 0.5-ml aliquots within 8 h of blood collection at −80°C until further use.

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