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Application of a novel and low cost technique to construct paraffin tissue microarrays out of paraffinised needle biopsy specimens from patients with breast cancer
  1. Ulrich Felix Vogel,
  2. Burkhard Bültmann
  1. Institute of Pathology, University Hospital, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen, Germany
  1. Correspondence to Dr Ulrich Vogel, Institute of Pathology, Eberhard-Karls-University, Liebermeisterstrasse 8, Tübingen D-72076, Germany; ulrich.vogel{at}


Background Paraffin tissue microarrays (TMAs) are a well accepted tool in pathology for high throughput molecular profiling, quality control and clinicopathological trials. No reports on TMAs constructed from paraffinised needle biopsy specimens (PNBSs) derived from patients with breast cancer can be found in the literature. PNBSs are sometimes the only source for tumour characterisation important for treatment.

Aim To develop a novel and low cost technique to construct TMAs from PNBSs (PNBSs–TMAs) in order to close this gap in TMA technology.

Methods Using a skin biopsy punch, tumour-bearing parts of 84 PNBSs were punched out of the donor blocks, freed from the surrounding paraffin by melting and manually transferred into the preformed holes in the recipient block. After filling the holes, the PNBSs–TMA was fixed to a double sided adhesive tape and completely melted. Quality assessment of this new technique was performed comparing the HER2 status (synonym: cerbB2) of the PNBSs–TMA with the results of the original PNBSs and a TMA harbouring the tumour in corresponding resection and mastectomy specimens (RM–TMA).

Results A 187-hole PNBSs–TMA with 84 PNBSs was successfully constructed. About 1% of the included PNBSs displayed signs of rolling and folding or of floating off the slide during the staining procedure. The results of immunohistochemistry, fluorescence in situ hybridisation and automated brightfield double in situ hybridisation showed high quality standard of the PNBSs–TMA, suitable for precise tumour profiling.

Conclusions PNBSs–TMAs are suitable for clinicopathological trials, especially those in which PNBSs are the only tumour source.

  • Breast cancer
  • cerbB2
  • in situ hybridization
  • microarray
  • surgical pathology

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  • Competing interests None.

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