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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

The changes in crosslink contents in tissues after formalin fixation.

The aim of this study was to detect crosslinks of collagen and elastin in formalin-fixed tissue, to perform quantification of these crosslinks, and to investigate the effects of formalin fixation on crosslink contents in human yellow ligament and cartilage. Pyridinoline (Pyr) is a stable and nonreducible crosslink of collagen. Pentosidine (Pen) is a senescent crosslink formed between arginine and lysine in matrix proteins, including collagen. Desmosine (Des) and its isomer isodesmosine (Isodes) are crosslinks specifically found in elastin. It is useful to measure crosslink contents of collagen and elastin as a way of investigating the properties of various tissues or their pathological changes. If it is possible to evaluate crosslinks of collagen and elastin in formalin-fixed tissues, we can investigate crosslinks in a wide variety of tissues. We used HPLC to compare the concentrations of Pyr, Pen, Des, and Isodes in the formalin-fixed tissues with their concentrations in the frozen tissues. Pyr and Pen were detected in both the formalin-fixed yellow ligament and the cartilage, and their concentrations were not significantly affected by or related to the duration of formalin fixation. Des and Isodes were detected in the formalin-fixed yellow ligament but in significantly lower amounts compared to the frozen samples. We concluded that crosslinks of collagen were preserved in formalin, but crosslinks of elastin were not preserved in it. The reason for this might be that formalin did not fix elastin tissues sufficiently or it destroyed, masked, or altered elastin crosslinks.[1]


  1. The changes in crosslink contents in tissues after formalin fixation. Abe, M., Takahashi, M., Horiuchi, K., Nagano, A. Anal. Biochem. (2003) [Pubmed]
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