Effect of Postmortem Interval and Years in Storage on RNA Quality of Tissue at a Repository of the NIH NeuroBioBank

Biopreserv Biobank. 2018 Apr;16(2):148-157. doi: 10.1089/bio.2017.0099. Epub 2018 Mar 2.


Brain tissue from 1068 donors was analyzed for RNA quality as a function of postmortem interval (PMI) and years in storage. Approximately 83% of the cortical and cerebellar samples had an RNA integrity number (RIN) of 6 or greater, indicating their likely suitability for real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction research. The average RIN value was independent of the PMI, up to at least 36 hours. The RNA quality for specific donated brains could not be predicted based on the PMI. Individual samples with a low PMI could have a poor RIN value, while a sample with a PMI over 36 hours may have a high RIN value. The RIN values for control brain donors, all of whom died suddenly and unexpectedly, were marginally higher than for individuals with clinical brain disorders. Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) analysis of samples confirmed that RIN values were more critical than PMI for determining suitability of tissue for molecular biological studies and samples should be matched by their RIN values rather than PMI. Importantly, PCR analysis established that tissue stored up to 23 years at -80°C yielded high-quality RNA. These results confirm that postmortem human brain tissue collected by brain and tissue banks over decades can serve as high quality material for the study of human disorders.

Keywords: PMI; RNA quality; brain bank; human brain; long-term storage.

MeSH terms

  • Brain Chemistry
  • Brain Diseases*
  • Brain*
  • Humans
  • Postmortem Changes
  • RNA / chemistry
  • RNA / isolation & purification*
  • Time Factors
  • Tissue Banks*


  • RNA