Molecular fixative enables expression microarray analysis of microdissected clinical cervical specimens

Gerald Li, Dirk van Niekerk, Dianne Miller, Thomas Ehlen, Cathie Garnis, Michele Follen, Martial Guillaud, Calum MacAulay

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Formalin-fixed tissue has been a mainstay of clinical pathology laboratories, but formalin alters many biomolecules, including nucleic acids and proteins. Meanwhile, frozen tissues contain better-preserved biomolecules, but tissue morphology is affected, limiting their diagnostic utility. Molecular fixatives promise to bridge this gap by simultaneously preserving morphology and biomolecules, enabling clinical diagnosis and molecular analyses on the same specimen. While previous reports have broadly evaluated the use of molecular fixative in various human tissues, we present here the first detailed assessment of the applicability of molecular fixative to both routine histopathological diagnosis and molecular analysis of cervical tissues. Ten specimens excised via the loop electrosurgical excision procedure, which removes conical tissue samples from the cervix, were cut into alternating pieces preserved in either formalin or molecular fixative. Cervical specimens preserved in molecular fixative were easily interpretable, despite featuring more eosinophilic cytoplasm and more recognizable chromatin texture than formalin-fixed specimens. Immunohistochemical staining patterns of p16 and Ki-67 were similar between fixatives, although Ki-67 staining was stronger in the molecular fixative specimens. The RNA of molecular fixative specimens from seven cases representing various dysplasia grades was assessed for utility in expression microarray analysis. Cluster analysis and scatter plots of duplicate samples suggest that data of sufficient quality can be obtained from as little as 50ng of RNA from molecular fixative samples. Taken together, our results show that molecular fixative may be a more versatile substitute for formalin, simultaneously preserving tissue morphology for clinical diagnosis and biomolecules for immunohistochemistry and gene expression analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)168-177
JournalExperimental and Molecular Pathology
Issue number2
Early online date08 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2014
Externally publishedYes


  • molecular fixative
  • Formaldehyde
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • cervical intraepithelial neoplasia
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Ki-67 Antigen
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Microdissection
  • Neoplasm Proteins
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • Proteins
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms
  • gene expression microarray analysis

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