miRNA Expression in Ovarian Cancer in Fresh Frozen, Formalin-fixed Paraffin-embedded and Plasma Samples


BACKGROUND/AIM: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs involved in gene expression regulation and have been investigated as potential biomarkers for various diseases, including ovarian cancer (OC). However, lack of standardized protocols regarding e.g., RNA isolation, cDNA synthesis, spike-in controls for experimental steps, and data normalization, impacts cross validation of results across research groups and hinders implementation of miRNAs as clinical biomarkers.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: RNA was isolated from matching fresh-frozen tissue (FF), formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissue, and plasma samples from twenty women diagnosed with OC using three commercial kits: miRNeasy Tissue/Cells, miRNeasy FFPE, and miRNeasy Serum/Plasma (Qiagen, Copenhagen, Denmark). RNA isolation, cDNA synthesis, and PCR performance were tested using miRCURY LNA miRNA Quality Control PCR (QC) Panels (Qiagen). Finally, miRNA stability was assessed using five algorithms: BestKeeper, Normfinder, GeNorm, comparative delta-Ct and comprehensive ranking provided by a web-based RefFinder tool.

RESULTS: RNA from FF, FFPE and plasma was extracted using commercially available kits and the differences in yield and purity were examined. We developed a simple method for identifying and potentially excluding samples based on their crossing point values from RT-qPCR data, which could improve existing manufacture guidelines. Moreover, we discussed how assessment of miRNA stability differs between algorithms, possibly leading to inconsistent results.

CONCLUSION: We present guidelines for RNA isolation, cDNA synthesis, and data normalization for successful miRNA expression profiling using RT-qPCR in corresponding biological OC specimens. We recommend QC panels in combination with spike-in controls and interplate controls to monitor process efficiencies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalIn vivo (Athens, Greece)
Issue number4
Pages (from-to)1591-1602
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2022


  • Biomarkers
  • DNA, Complementary
  • Female
  • Formaldehyde
  • Gene Expression Profiling/methods
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs/genetics
  • Ovarian Neoplasms/genetics
  • Paraffin Embedding/methods
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Tissue Fixation/methods


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