The mandate for a proper preservation in histopathological tissues

Vol. 53 No. 2, 2012


Maria Comanescu, D. Arsene, Carmen Ardeleanu, G. Bussolati

A sequence of technically reproducible procedures is mandatory to guarantee a proper preservation of tissues and to build up the basis for sound diagnoses. However, while the goal of these procedures was, until recently, to assure only structural (histological and cytological) preservation, an appropriate preservation of antigenic properties and of nucleic acid integrity is now additionally requested, in order to permit pathologists to provide the biological information necessary for the adoption of personalized therapies. The present review analyses the sequence of technical steps open to critical variations. Passages such as dehydration, paraffin embedding, sectioning and staining are relatively well standardized and allow adoption of dedicated (automatic) apparatuses, while other pre-analytical steps, i.e. time and modalities of transfer of surgical specimens from the surgical theatre to the pathology laboratory (s.c. "ischemia time") and the type and length of fixation are not standardized and are a potential cause of discrepancies in diagnostic results. Our group is involved in European-funded projects tackling these problems with the concrete objective of implementing a model of effective tumors investigations by high performance genetic and molecular methodologies. The problem of the discrepant quality level of histopathological and cytological preparations involved five European countries and exploiting the potential of "virtual slide technology". Concrete issues, techniques and pitfalls, as well as proposed guidelines for processing the tissues are shown in this presentation.

Corresponding author: Gianni Bussolati, Professor, MD, PhD; e-mail:

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