Reliability of miRNA analysis from fixed and paraffin-embedded tissues

Eros Azzalini, Eleonora De Martino, Paolo Fattorini, Vincenzo Canzonieri, Giorgio Stanta, Serena Bonin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In clinical practice, patients’ tissues are fixed and paraffin-embedded in order to enable histological diagnosis. Nowadays, those tissues are also used for molecular characterization. Formalin is the most used fixative worldwide, and Bouin’s solution in some worldwide institutions. Among molecular targets, micro RNAs (miRNAs), the single-stranded non-coding RNAs comprised of 18 to 24 nucleotides, have been demonstrated to be resistant to fixation and paraffin-embedding processes, with consequent possible application in clinical practice. In the present study, let-7e-5p, miR-423-3p, miR-92a-1-5p, miR-30d-5p, miR-155-5p, miR-200a-3p, and miR-429 were investigated in formalin and matched Bouin’s solution-fixed tissues of high grade serous ovarian cancers by means of real-time and droplet digital PCR (ddPCR). Micro RNAs were detectable and analyzable in both formalin- and Bouin’s-fixed specimens, but on average, higher Ct values and lower copies/µL were found in Bouin’s-fixed samples. Data from formalin-fixed samples correlated significantly for most targets with Bouin’s ones, except for let-7e-5p and miR-155-5p. This study shows that miRNAs are analyzable in both formalin- and Bouin’s-fixed specimens, with the possibility, after proper data normalization, to compare miRNA-based data from formalin-fixed samples to those of Bouin’s-fixed ones.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4819
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number19
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2019


  • Bouin’s
  • ddPCR
  • Formalin
  • miRNA
  • Real-time PCR

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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