Preservation of nucleic acids and tissue morphology in paraffin-embedded clinical samples: comparison of five molecular fixatives

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Formalin fixation preserves tissue morphology at the expense of macromolecule integrity. Freshly frozen samples are the golden standard for DNA and RNA analyses but require laborious deep-freezing and frozen sectioning for morphological studies. Alternative tissue stabilisation methods are therefore needed. We analysed the preservation of nucleic acids, immunohistochemical staining properties and tissue morphology in paraffin-embedded clinical tissue samples fixed with Z7, RCL2, PAXgene, Allprotect and RNAlater. Formalin-fixed and deep-frozen samples were used as controls. Immunohistochemical analyses showed good preservation of antigenicity in all except Allprotect and RNAlater-fixed samples. RNA quality, based on RNA integrity number value by Bioanalyzer, was comparable with freshly frozen samples only in PAXgene-fixed samples. According to quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) analyses, RNA from PAXgene samples yielded results similar to freshly frozen samples. No difference between fixatives was seen in DNA analyses (PCR and real-time PCR). In conclusion, PAXgene seems to be superior to other molecular fixatives and formaldehyde.

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