Evaluation of formalin-free tissue fixation for RNA and microRNA studies.
ABSTRACT FineFix, RCL-2 and HOPE, three formalin-free fixatives, were compared to the common used formalin fixed tissue samples of lung cancer and were evaluated for their effects on quality, quantity and integrity of RNA and microRNA. Two commercially available RNA extraction Kits (RNeasy FFPE by Qiagen and RecoverAll™ Nucleic Acid Isolation by Ambion) were tested and optimized in order to determine an extraction protocol for RNA as well as miRNA independent of the fixative. Two selected miRNAs were quantified via TaqMan MicroRNA assays. The optimized RNA extraction protocol for Qiagen's Kit leads to similar results for RNA quality and integrity for all fixatives. Highest RNA yield was obtained for formalin and the highest average miRNA ratio was found for FineFix. RNA fragments smaller than 500 bases were detected in FineFix, formalin and RCL2 fixed tissues; HOPE was the only fixative showing long fragments in one third of the samples. Our findings demonstrate that formalin-free fixatives are in general not superior for RNA studies. With our optimized RNA extraction protocol, there is no difficulty in extracting great amounts of RNA with high quality. According to the quality obtained, quantitative real-time PCR analysis can be performed without any negative impact. Similar results can be achieved for the tested fixatives and therefore no fixative seems to represent a new "gold-standard" for tissue fixation.