The Buffy Coat Layer – What it Contains & Why it Happens

What is the Buffy Coat?

The buffy coat accounts for less than 1 percent of a whole blood sample, yet it contains the majority of white blood cells (WBC) and platelets. In fact, leukocytes can be 10-20X more concentrated in the buffy coat than in whole blood. Therefore these samples are highly valuable for researchers and healthcare professionals who require WBC and platelets for studies or treatments.

How is the buffy coat extracted from blood?

In order to fractionate the buffy coat from a whole blood sample, a process called centrifugation is used.

Essentially, this process involves placing the whole blood sample in a centrifuge machine— a piece of equipment that spins the blood at a high speed. This causes the particles within the blood to separate, making them easier to collect.

Below is an example of a typical centrifugation process:


Before the centrifugation process begins, the proper precautions must be taken. First, the correct type of tube for the blood will need to be determined. If an EDTA tube is used, the blood will need to be processed within two hours of being collected from the donor. Alternatively, if a STRECK tube is used, the blood must be processed within 24 hours.

Additionally, the sample could contain diseases, contaminants, or infections. For this reason, it is imperative that proper safety precautions be taken when preparing for buffy coat extraction.


Once all proper procedures have been followed, the sample is placed in the centrifuge machine, ensuring that the sample is balanced and properly secured. The temperature of the unit, as well as how fast it will need to be spun, will depend on the type of tube used and the volume of the sample. Typically, the spinning process lasts approximately 10 minutes.


Using a pipette, the now concentrated leukocyte layer (aka the buffy coat) is extracted from the top of the centrifuged sample. The amount of buffy coat collected will be approximately 20 percent of the original whole blood sample. Thus, for every 10 mL of whole blood that is centrifuged, one can expect to gather 2 mL of buffy coat blood.

What are the uses of buffy coat?

As mentioned previously, the buffy coat contains high amounts of white blood cells (WBC) and platelets.

White blood cells are a fundamental part of the human immune system. They are continuously searching for, identifying, and combating viruses, bacteria, and other antigens that can lead to illness, infection, and other harmful conditions.

Platelets are microscopic blood cells whose primary function is to prevent bleeding. Whenever your body is subjected to an injury, platelets rush to the affected area and begin a process called adhesion, which is what leads to scabs and clotting.

Without these indispensable components of blood, the human body would not be able to fend off ailments or heal itself effectively.

Thus, the buffy coat of blood is a precious commodity. When used in research, specifically, it helps academic professionals to further examine the role of these powerful cells and explore new ways to treat patients successfully.

Buffy coat can also be used by healthcare specialists to identify the presence of harmful diseases like malaria, or to increase platelet counts in patients who require it.

Our Expertise

At BuyPMBCs, our esteemed and knowledgeable lab technicians have decades of experience in the immunochemistry and pharmaceutical research fields.

Having completed highly specialized programs, including Molecular Biology and Biomedicine and Translational Informatics and Diagnostic Sciences, our team members have the experience and aptitude required to extract buffy layers successfully and provide our clients with premium quality samples they can depend on.

Plus, with real-time sample processing occurring in over 50 countries on 6 continents, we are able to manage the sample from draw to assay, streamlining handling and ensuring sample preservation, integrity, and consistency.

Lastly, our large inventory of extensively characterized cryopreserved cells, ready for immediate delivery, allow us to expediently fulfill orders and provide our clients with the products they require, without delay.

We are also capable of providing custom curated specimens, based on your specific desired donor and cell population.

How to Order

You can request a free quote online or give us a call at 1-855-222-5010.

Please note:

All of BuyPBMCs products are intended for research or manufacturing use only unless otherwise arranged. Products are not to be used for human therapeutics, or for any other purposes, including: in vitro diagnostic purposes, in foods, drugs, medical devices or cosmetics for humans or animals, or commercial use.

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