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Nonfouling, Encoded Hydrogel Microparticles for Multiplex MicroRNA Profiling Directly from Formalin-Fixed, Paraffin-Embedded Tissue

Nagarajan, Maxwell B., Tentori, Augusto M., Zhang, Wen Cai, Slack, Frank J., Doyle, Patrick S.
Analytical chemistry 2018 v.90 no.17 pp. 10279-10285
biomarkers, crosslinking, formaldehyde, histology, hydrogels, microRNA, microparticles, neoplasms, non-coding RNA, proteins, protocols, staining, toxic substances
MicroRNAs (miRNA) are short, noncoding RNAs that have been implicated in many diseases, including cancers. Because miRNAs are dysregulated in disease, miRNAs show promise as highly stable biomarkers. Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) tissue is a valuable sample type to assay for biomolecules because it is a convenient storage method and is often used by pathologists for histological staining. However, extracting biomolecules from FFPE tissue is challenging because of the presence of cellular and extracellular proteins, formaldehyde cross-links, and paraffin. Moreover, most protocols to measure miRNA in FFPE tissue are time-consuming and laborious. Here, we report a simple protocol to directly measure miRNA from formalin-fixed cells, FFPE tissue sections after paraffin is removed, and FFPE tissue sections using encoded hydrogel microparticles fabricated using stop flow lithography. Measurements by these particles show agreement between formalin-fixed cells and fresh cells, and measurement of FFPE tissue with paraffin is 10% less than FFPE tissue when paraffin is removed before the assay. When normal and tumor FFPE tissue are compared using this microparticle assay, we observe differential miRNA signal for oncogenic miRNAs and tumor suppressing miRNAs. This approach reduces assay times, reduces the use of hazardous chemicals to remove paraffin, and provides a sensitive, quantitative, and multiplexed measurement of miRNA in FFPE tissue.