Investigation of specimen mislabelling in paraffin-embedded tissue using a rapid, allele-specific, PCR-based HLA class II typing method

Histopathology. 1996 Feb;28(2):169-74. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-2559.1996.277323.x.


Mislabelling of surgical specimens can seriously affect the accuracy of histopathology reports. We describe two cases in which clinically suspected mislabelling was investigated by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based HLA DRB and DQB tissue typing of paraffin biopsy-derived DNA, using sequence specific primers (PCR-SSP HLA typing). In the first case, two patients underwent surgery for breast carcinoma. A subcutaneous lymph node containing metastatic carcinoma was received with the breast specimen from one patient, but was clinically considered more likely to originate from the other patient who underwent breast surgery on the same day. In the second case, histological examination of retained products of conception from a young woman revealed adenocarcinoma, but a repeat curettage specimen consisted of secretory phase endometrium. In case 1, PCR-SSP HLA typing confirmed the clinical suspicion that the subcutaneous lymph node received with tissue from one patient originated from the other patient. This result converted the first patient from lymph node positive breast carcinoma to lymph node negative disease. In case 2, there was no evidence from PCR-SSP HLA typing that the endometrial samples had originated from different patients. PCR-SSP HLA typing requires fewer steps than methods based on PCR amplification followed by oligonucleotide probing (PCR-SSOP HLA typing), and relies on the amplification of shorter sequences of DNA. Therefore, this technique can produce more rapid results than PCR-SSOP HLA typing, and is ideally suited to typing partially degraded DNA derived from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded tissue.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis
  • Adenocarcinoma / surgery
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alleles*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / surgery
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Ductal, Breast / surgery
  • Diagnostic Errors
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Endometrial Neoplasms / surgery
  • Female
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II / analysis*
  • Histocompatibility Testing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Paraffin Embedding*
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Pregnancy
  • Specimen Handling


  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class II