Increased yield of total RNA from fine-needle aspirates for use in expression microarray analysis

Biotechniques. 2002 Oct;33(4):890-2, 894, 896. doi: 10.2144/02334mt02.


Fine-needle aspirate samples hold the potential for gaining valuable insight into the molecular details and prognostic indicators for certain types of cancer in a limited volume of relatively pure tumor cells. Although limited, such clinical samples can be used with high efficiency when analyzed in conjunction with gene-dense expression microarrays. For this reason, it is essential to retrieve as much high-quality genetic material as possible from each fine-needle aspirate sample. We have conducted a study to improve the efficiency of extracting high quality total RNA to use in microarray analysis from single ex vivo fine-needle aspirate samples of 11 breast cancers added to RNAlater RNA Stabilization Reagent immediately upon collection. Approximately half the total RNA from fine-needle aspirate samples of breast cancers was isolated from the supernatant, and that RNA had similar quality and gene expression profile to the RNA that was isolated from the corresponding cell pellet. We recommend that the supernatant not be discarded when extracting RNA from fine-needle aspirate samples stored in RNAlater.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Technical Report

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy, Needle / methods
  • Breast Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis / methods*
  • RNA, Neoplasm / isolation & purification*


  • RNA, Neoplasm