Description of Services

Tissue Procurement and Tissue Microarrays

The HTPF provides human tissues to researchers across the CWRU/UHCMC campus, and also serves extramural researchers. The Tissue Resources Core (TRC) is a specialized unit of the HTPF that provides priority access to Case Comprehensive Cancer Center members. The TRC also assists physicians involved in Cooperative Group studies in the procurement and shipment of specimens to designated study laboratories. Samples not needed for internal research programs are provided to investigators throughout the U.S. through special arrangements.

Human tissues are prospectively procured according to individual researcher requirements including:

Acceptability of surgical or autopsy samples
Tissue type
Minimum weight or dimensions
Necessity for matched normal tissue
Acceptable time before freezing
Age range
Race or ethnicity
Acceptability of tissues from patients that have undergone chemotherapy or radiation treatment
Frequency and number of samples desired
Other specified criteria

A wide variety of tissues from over 70 anatomic sites are made available by the HTPF to researchers. Normal, diseased, benign and malignant tissues are obtained, and matched normal adjacent tissues and tissues from different organ sites from the same donor can also be provided when available. Due to the nature of the hospital as a tertiary care medical center, rare types of tissues are often obtainable. Tissue samples are prepared according to user-specified protocols and can be fresh in a medium of choice, fixed in formalin, quick frozen in the vapor phase of liquid nitrogen or snap-frozen by plunging the sample into liquid nitrogen. Frozen tissues are held in the vapor phase of the liquid nitrogen, which is believed to be the best possible means of long-term preservation of tissue samples. Tissues can also be embedded, cut and mounted on slides, and stained upon request. Tissues are made available to CWRU/UHCMC researchers immediately following their preparation. Tissue Microarray (TMA) services are offered for the design and construction of TMAs meeting specific project needs. Over 100 tissue samples can be placed on a single slide.

Basic demographic data (age, race, gender) and histopathologic data from Surgical Pathology Reports are provided by the HTPF with the tissues. Chart reviews are conducted on an as-needed basis as a special service to obtain additional requested clinical information. Patient confidentiality is strictly maintained through the use of sample code numbers, de-identification and de-linking procedures.

Tissue Banking

Arrangements for banking of tissues at CWRU/UHCMC are not included in the standard HTPF services, but are supported through specific arrangements with the Case Comprehensive Cancer Center's TRC facility. Samples stored in the biorepository and clinical archive materials are available to Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Members. Please contact the TRC at 844-5389 or click on the link to the TRC website to obtain additional information.


The HTPF provides histology services to the research community for human and animal tissue studies. For most histological procedures, tissues are embedded in paraffin or OCT. Specimens for paraffin processing should be in cassettes, submersed in formalin, another fixative or buffer following fixation. The fixed tissues are then dehydrated and cleared, and infiltrated with paraffin using a vacuum infiltration processor. The tissues are then embedded in paraffin. Tissues for frozen sectioning should be fast frozen, with or without OCT, and brought to the facility on dry ice. The blocks are sectioned, placed on slides and stained, if desired. Tissues can also be embedded in methacrylate. Routine stains available include:

H & E
Methylene Blue
Mason's Trichrome
A variety of other stains (please inquire)

After staining, slides are then coverslipped, viewed for quality, and re-cut if needed. Slides are then cleaned, labeled and returned to the researcher.

Researchers can request to have any one step followed for their specimen. For example, a researcher can ask that their sample simply be processed, processed and embedded only, or brought already embedded to have slides made. Many researchers have unstained slides made for use in their laboratory with one slide in the series H & E stained for comparison purposes. A researcher may also provide unstained slides to the facility for staining. The facility is very flexible in providing services needed by individual laboratories.

Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and Photomicroscopy

Immunohistochemistry and enzyme histochemistry are available for many antigens. Several antigen retrieval techniques are performed with or without heavy metal enhancement. Please contact the facility for more information. Light, phase contrast and fluorescence microscopy with digital imaging are available for histology, IHC and TMA prepared slides.