Development of Methods to Extract RNA From Archived Pediatric Needle Liver Biopsies to Produce Sequencing Data

J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 2021 Mar 1;72(3):436-441. doi: 10.1097/MPG.0000000000003012.


Abstract: Genetic susceptibility has been proposed as etiopathogenic in several pediatric liver diseases including autoimmune hepatitis (AIH). High throughput sequencing (HTPS) has been applied to archived needle liver biopsies obtained from adults but rarely to pediatric biopsies. For conclusive diagnosis of AIH, most subjects have an initial formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) needle liver biopsy that is eventually archived and may be stored for decades.

Objective: Our goal was to develop methods to utilize tissue from archived needle liver biopsies for extraction of RNA sufficient to produce HTPS data.

Methods: We extracted total RNA from 45 FFPE needle liver biopsy samples (24 AIH type 1 patients and 21 controls [ages 15_11 and 19_10]; biopsy storage time 0.5-20 years) and constructed cDNA libraries that were then sequenced on an Illumina HiSeq2000 platform.

Results: Forty (89%) of the libraries produced high-quality sequences for further analyses. The average number of sequences obtained per library from HTPS was 55,136,519 (range 14,914,291-184,027,499). There was a significant inverse relationship between the number of human reads obtained and the age of the specimen (P < 2_10_7). It was possible to classify more than 90% of the reads as known genes in samples that had been stored for less than 10 years.

Conclusions: Archived needle liver biopsies can be used for sequence based interrogation of the etiologic origins of complex liver diseases of young subjects, such as AIH.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Biopsy
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Liver*
  • RNA*
  • Young Adult


  • RNA