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Review
. 2008 Dec;132(12):1929-35.
doi: 10.1043/1543-2165-132.12.1929.

Tissue Handling and Specimen Preparation in Surgical Pathology: Issues Concerning the Recovery of Nucleic Acids From Formalin-Fixed, Paraffin-Embedded Tissue

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Review

Tissue Handling and Specimen Preparation in Surgical Pathology: Issues Concerning the Recovery of Nucleic Acids From Formalin-Fixed, Paraffin-Embedded Tissue

Stephen M Hewitt et al. Arch Pathol Lab Med. .

Abstract

Context: Expression profiling by microarrays and real-time polymerase chain reaction-based assays is a powerful tool for classification and prognostication of disease; however, it remains a research tool, largely reliant on frozen tissue. Limiting the utility of expression profiling is the isolation of quality nucleic acids from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue. The collection, handling, and processing of tissue directly impacts the biomolecules that can be recovered from it. High-quality nucleic acids can be obtained from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue, but greater attention to all steps in the process of tissue handling and preparation is required.

Objective: To summarize the current state-of-the-art of preanalytic factors in tissue handling and processing as they impact the quality of RNA obtainable from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue. The goals are to provide recommendations that will improve RNA quality for expression profiling from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue and highlight areas for additional research. Tissue is an analyte and it must be handled in a standardized fashion to provide consistent results.

Data sources: The literature was reviewed. Consultation with industry and academic leaders in the use of RNA for expression profiling was obtained to identify areas for additional research.

Conclusions: Development of RNA-based assays from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue is feasible. Greater attention to tissue handling and processing is essential to improve the quality of biospecimens for the development of robust RNA-based assays. Standardization of procedures and vigorous testing of alternative protocols are required to ensure that these assays function as designed.

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