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Targeted Transcriptional Profiling of Kidney Transplant Biopsies



Studies are needed to assess the quality of transcriptome analysis in paired human tissue samples preserved by different methods and different gene amplification platforms to enable data comparisons across experimenters.


RNA was extracted from kidney biopsies, either submerged in RNA-stabilizing solution (RSS) or stored in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) blocks. RNA quality and integrity were compared. Gene expression of the common rejection module and other immune cell genes were quantified for both tissue preservation methods in the same sample using conventional quantitative polymerase chain reaction (QPCR) by 2 different commercial platforms, (fluidigm [FD]) or barcoded-oligos (nanostring [NS]).


RNA quality was inferior in FFPE tissues. Despite this, gene expression for 19 measured genes on the same sample, stored in FFPE or RSS, were strongly correlated on the FD (r = 0.81) or NS platforms (r = 0.82). For the same samples, interplatform gene expression correlations were excellent (r = 0.80) for RSS and moderate (r = 0.66) for FFPE. Significant differences in gene expression were confirmed on both platforms (FD: P = 1.1E-03; NS: P = 2.5E-04) for biopsy-confirmed acute rejection.


Our study provided supportive evidence that despite a low RNA quality of archival FFPE kidney transplantation tissue, small quantities of this tissue can be obtained from existing paraffin blocks to provide a viable and rich biospecimen source for focused gene expression assays. In addition, reliable and reproducible gene expression evaluation can be performed on these FFPE tissues using either a QPCR-based or a barcoded-oligo approach, which provides opportunities for collaborative analytics.

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