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Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2011 Jun;135(6):744-52. doi: 10.1043/2009-0676-OA.1.

Comparison of formalin-free tissue fixatives: a proteomic study testing their application for routine pathology and research.

Author information

  • 1Institute of Pathology, Research Unit for Molecular Lung and Pleura Pathology, Medical University of Graz, Austria.



Formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue is the routine processing method for diagnostics practiced in pathology departments worldwide.


To determine the potential value of non-cross-linking, formalin-free tissue fixation for diagnostics in pathology and proteomic investigations.


We tested 3 commercially available, formalin-free tissue fixatives-FineFIX, RCL2, and HOPE-in lung cancer specimens from 10 patients. The fixatives were evaluated for their effects on tissue morphology, protein recovery, and immunoreactivity for a selected panel of proteins differently expressed in lung cancer, using immunohistochemistry and Western blotting.


Tumor-cell analysis with hematoxylin-eosin worked equally well for all tested fixatives when compared with the standard formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded procedure. Movat pentachrome stains showed comparable results for the different matrices and cellular proteins analyzed. The RCL2 (P = .01) and HOPE fixatives (P = .03) improved protein recovery when compared with formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded or frozen tissues. Our data clearly show that the fixatives evaluated influenced immunoreactivity to matched, formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded lung cancer tissue. In particular, membrane-bound proteins, such as epidermal growth factor receptor EGFR, can be detected more efficiently by immunohistochemistry and Western blotting.


We have demonstrated that formalin-free fixatives have the potential in routine pathology and research to replace formalin in histomorphology and protein preservation.

Comment in

  • Proteomics? [Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2012]
  • Formalin fixation. [Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2012]
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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