Using oligonucleotide aptamer probes for immunostaining of formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissues

Mod Pathol. 2010 Dec;23(12):1553-8. doi: 10.1038/modpathol.2010.151. Epub 2010 Aug 6.


For tissue immunostaining, antibodies are currently the only clinically validated and commercially available probes. Aptamers, which belong to a class of small molecule ligands composed of short single-stranded oligonucleotides, have emerged as probes over the last several decades; however, their potential clinical value has not yet been fully explored. Using cultured cells and an RNA-based CD30 aptamer, we recently demonstrated that the synthetic aptamer is useful as a specific probe for flow cytometric detection of CD30-expressing lymphoma cells. In this study, we further validated the use of this aptamer probe for immunostaining of formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded lymphoma tissues. Using CD30 antibody as a standard control, we demonstrated that the synthetic CD30 aptamer specifically recognized and immunostained tumor cells of classical Hodgkin lymphoma and anaplastic large cell lymphoma, but did not react with background cells within tumor sites. Notably, the CD30 aptamer probe optimally immunostained lymphoma cells with lower temperature antigen retrieval (37 vs 96°C for antibody) and shorter probing reaction times (20 vs 90 min for antibody) than typical antibody immunostaining protocols. In addition, the CD30 aptamer probe showed no nonspecific background staining of cell debris in necrotic tissue and exhibited no cross-reaction to tissues that do not express CD30, as confirmed by a standard CD30 antibody staining. Therefore, our findings indicate that the synthetic oligonucleotide CD30 aptamer can be used as a probe for immunostaining of fixed tissue sections for disease diagnosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aptamers, Nucleotide*
  • Formaldehyde
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Ki-1 Antigen / analysis*
  • Ki-1 Antigen / biosynthesis
  • Lymphoma / diagnosis
  • Oligonucleotide Probes*
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Tissue Fixation


  • Aptamers, Nucleotide
  • Ki-1 Antigen
  • Oligonucleotide Probes
  • Formaldehyde