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Nucleic acid sequence-based amplification in formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded breast-cancer tissues
  1. Ulrike Riehle1,
  2. Andreas Mader2,
  3. Thomas Brandstetter3,
  4. Jürgen Rühe3,
  5. Axel zur Hausen2,
  6. Elmar Stickeler1
  1. 1Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics, University Hospital Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  2. 2Institute of Pathology, University Hospital Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  3. 3Laboratory for Chemistry and Physics of Interfaces, Department of Microsystems Engineering (IMTEK), University Freiburg, Freiburg, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Professor Axel zur Hausen, Breisacherstrasse 155 a, D-79106 Freiburg, Germany; axel.zurhausen{at}


Aim To evaluate the nucleic acid sequence-based amplification (NASBA) technique to amplify mRNA isolated from formalin-fixed and paraffin-embedded (FFPE) breast-cancer tissues.

Methods RNA was extracted from archived, 10-year-old FFPE tissues, and selected genes, namely ribosomal protein S18 (RPS18), epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2), estrogen receptor alpha (ERα), Y box binding protein (YBX-1), matrix metallopeptidase 11 (MMP11), caspase 8 (CASP8) and superoxide dismutase 2 (SOD2), were amplified by NASBA.

Results Despite strong degradation of the template, RNA amplification of all tested genes resulted in strong hybridisation signals. Sensitivity tests showed that the RPS18 NASBA assay was more sensitive than real-time RT-PCR used as a reference method. The sensitivity of the HER2, ERα, MMP11, YBX1, CASP8 and SOD2 NASBA assay was comparable with RT-PCR targeted to the respective genes.

Conclusions The results obtained indicate that NASBA is suitable to amplify with high specificity and sensitivity, even strongly degraded RNA isolated from FFPE tissues, and therefore can complement already-existing amplification techniques such as RT-PCR for analysis of such tissues.

  • NASBA/FFPE tissues/breast cancer
  • fixation

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  • Funding This work was supported by the German Research Foundation (Sti 153/3-1, Ru 489/15-1, HA 5797/2-2).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval Ethics approval was provided by the local ethical committee (No 275/2006).

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.