Determination of optimum formalin fixation duration for prostate needle biopsies for immunohistochemistry and quantum dot FISH analysis

Ubaradka G. Sathyanarayana, Chandler Birch, Raymond B. Nagle, Scott A. Tomlins, Nallasivam Palanisamy, Wenjun Zhang, Antony Hubbard, Patrick Brunhoeber, Yixin Wang, Lei Tang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Prostate biopsy is the key clinical specimen for disease diagnosis. However, various conditions used during biopsy processing for histologic analysis may affect the performance of diagnostic tests, such as hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining, immunohistochemistry (IHC), or in situ hybridization (ISH). One such condition that may affect diagnostic test performance is fixation duration in 10% neutral buffered formalin (NBF). For example, prostate needle biopsies are often <1 mm in diameter and thus overfixed. It is important to understand the impact of tissue fixation duration on diagnostic test performance to enable optimized assay procedures. This study was designed to study the effect of 10% NBF fixation duration of prostate needle biopsy on multiplexed quantum dot (QD) ISH assay of ERG and PTEN, 2 genes commonly altered in prostate cancer. The samples were also evaluated for H&E staining and ERG and PTEN IHC. H&E staining and ERG and PTEN IHC were acceptable for all the durations of fixation tested. For QD ISH, we observed good signals with biopsy samples fixed from 4 to 120 hours. Biopsy specimens fixed between 8 and 72 hours gave the best signal as scored by the study pathologist. In a separate cohort of 18 routinely processed prostate biopsy cores, all cores were stained successfully with the QD ISH assay, and results were 100% concordant to ERG and PTEN IHC. We conclude that 8 to 72 hours duration of fixation for prostate needle biopsies in 10% NBF results in optimal QD ISH assay performance.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)364-373
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Immunohistochemistry and Molecular Morphology
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 26 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • IHC
  • formalin fixed paraffin embedded
  • gene expression
  • prostate cancer
  • quantum dot
  • tissue diagnostic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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