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Multiplex digital colour-coded barcode technology on RNA extracted from routine cytological samples of patients with non-small cell lung cancer: pilot study
  1. Roberta Sgariglia,
  2. Pasquale Pisapia,
  3. Mariantonia Nacchio,
  4. Caterina De Luca,
  5. Francesco Pepe,
  6. Maria Russo,
  7. Claudio Bellevicine,
  8. Giancarlo Troncone,
  9. Umberto Malapelle
  1. Department of Public Health, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Professor Giancarlo Troncone, Department of Public Health University of Naples Federico II, via Sergio Pansini 5, Naples I-80131, Italy; giancarlo.troncone{at}


In the advanced stages of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), molecular testing is often performed on archival cytological smears. The nCounter system (NanoString Technologies) is a new promising multiplex digital colour-coded barcode technology. However, its feasibility to evaluate the RNA expression of clinical relevant biomarkers on routine cytological smears is still uncertain. To this end, RNA was extracted from 12 NSCLC routine stained cytological smears, and nCounter analysis performed by using a 48-gene panel. Overall, 11/12 (92%) of the smears were adequate for the secondary analysis, fulfilling the quality check parameter analysis of nSolver software. This pilot study shows that RNA nCounter analysis is feasible on routine cytological smears preparing the field for the implementation of this technology in the routine setting.


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  • Handling editor Runjan Chetty

  • Contributors RS, GT and UM conceived the study and wrote the paper; PP and CB contributed as pathologists; MN, CDL, FP and MR performed the experiments.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

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