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Dark MJ, Craft WF, Conway JA.2014. Comparison of histomorphology and DNA preservation produced by fixatives in the veterinary diagnostic laboratory setting. PeerJ PrePrints2:e296v1https://doi.org/10.7287/peerj.preprints.296v1
Histopathology is the most useful tool for diagnosis of a number of diseases, especially cancer. To be effective, histopathology requires that tissues be fixed prior to processing. Formalin is currently the most common histologic fixative, offering many advantages: it is cheap, readily available, and pathologists are routinely trained to examine tissues fixed in formalin. However, formalin fixation substantially degrades tissue DNA, hindering subsequent use in diagnostics and research. We therefore evaluated three alternative fixatives, TissueTek® Xpress® Molecular Fixative, modified methacarn, and PAXgene®, all of which have been proposed as formalin alternatives, to determine their suitability for routine use in a veterinary diagnostic laboratory. This was accomplished by examining the histomorphology of sections produced from fixed tissues as well as the ability to amplify fragments from extracted DNA. Tissues were sampled from two dogs and four cats, fixed for 24-48 hours, and processed routinely. While all fixatives produced acceptable histomorphology, formalin had significantly better morphologic characteristics than the other three fixatives. Alternative fixatives generally had better DNA amplification than formalin, although results varied somewhat depending on the tissue examined. While no fixative is yet ready to replace formalin, the alternative fixatives examined may be useful as adjuncts to formalin in diagnostic practices.