A microaliquoting technique for precise histological annotation and optimization of cell content in frozen tissue specimens

Biotechnic and Histochemistry. 2007 Oct 3;:1-9 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]

Richards W, Van Oss S, Glickman J, Chirieac L, Yeap B, Dong L, Gordon G, Mercer H, Gill K, Imrich A, Bueno R, Sugarbaker D.

Division of Thoracic Surgery, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, MA, USA.


Knowledge of the exact cell content of frozen tissue samples is of growing importance in genomic research. We developed a microaliquoting technique to measure and optimize the cell composition of frozen tumor specimens for molecular studies. Frozen samples of 31 mesothelioma cases were cut in alternating thin and thick sections. Thin sections were stained and evaluated visually. Thick sections, i.e., microaliquots, were annotated using bordering stained sections. A range of cellular heterogeneity was observed among and within samples. Precise annotation of samples was obtained by integration and compared to conventional single face and "front and back" section estimates of cell content. Front and back estimates were more highly correlated with block annotation by microaliquoting than were single face estimates. Both methods yielded discrepant estimates, however, and for some studies may not adequately account for the heterogeneity of mesothelioma or other malignancies with variable cellular composition. High yield and quality RNA was extracted from precision annotated, tumor-enriched subsamples prepared by combining individual microaliquots with the highest tumor cellularity estimates. Microaliquoting provides accurate cell content annotation and permits genomic analysis of enriched subpopulations of cells without fixation or amplification.

Keywords: cancer; frozen tissue; mesothelioma; microaliquots; RNA preparation; tissue banking