RNA integrity in post mortem human variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) and control brain tissue

K.R. Sherwood, M.W. Head, R. Walker, C. Smith, J.W. Ironside, J.K. Fazakerley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Aims: To determine premortem and post mortem factors affecting quality and yield of RNA isolated from the unique archived brain material in the UK National Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease Surveillance Unit Brain and Tissue Bank and to compare this to control brain tissue with no neurological disease. Methods: In parallel and in replicate, RNA was prepared from the frontal parasagittal or subfrontal cortex of samples dissected from half brains (frozen intact) or from brain samples snap frozen or placed in RNALater. A total of 350 RNA samples from 78 human autopsy cases, 21 variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, 26 other neurological diseases and 31 non-neurological diseases were studied. Results: There was no difference in the quality or yield of RNA isolated from variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, other neurological disease and non-neurological disease brains. RNA preparations from archived frozen half brains or snap frozen autopsy samples were generally of poor quality (RNA integrity number <5). There was a highly significant negative correlation between the number of times frozen half brains had been sampled and the quality of RNA. Samples stored in RNALater provided higher-quality RNA (RNA integrity number > 5). Age at death, gender, post mortem interval and freezer storage time had no effect on RNA quality. Conclusion: Reasonable-quality RNA can be isolated from samples dissected from archived frozen human half brains but repeated sampling results in RNA degradation. Better-quality RNA is obtained from samples placed in RNALater than from snap frozen samples. The quality and yield of RNA are not affected by age at death, gender, post mortem interval of > 6 h or freezer storage time.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-642
Number of pages10
JournalNeuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • brain
  • Creutzfeldt-Jakob
  • human
  • post mortem
  • RNA


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