Background & Aims: A new gene expression profile test may distinguish eosinophilic esophagitis (EoE) and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), but the optimal tissue preparation and biopsy location are unknown. We aimed to determine if formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) and RNA-later (RNAL) preserved specimens from newly diagnosed EoE patients have equivalent gene expression scores and whether scores vary by esophageal biopsy location.

Methods: We analyzed prospectively collected and banked esophageal biopsies from EoE patients and GERD controls. Paired FFPE and RNAL samples from the distal, mid, and proximal esophagus were used. RNA was extracted, and gene expression for a previously constructed 96 gene panel was quantified with a summary expression score. Scores were compared between EoE and GERD patients, between FFPE and RNAL samples, and between the different esophageal locations.

Results: A total of 72 samples, representing paired FFPE and RNAL specimens from 9 EoE cases and 3 GERD controls, were analyzed. Overall median gene expression scores were similar between FFPE and RNAL (238 vs 227; p=0.64), correlation was excellent between FFPE and RNAL (Spearman's rho=0.90; p<0.001), and there were no differences by biopsy level. Median gene scores distinguished EoE from controls (134 vs 402; p=0.02), and overall agreement between preservation methods and EoE case status was perfect (kappa=1.0; p<0.001).

Gene expression scores were equivalent in FFPE and RNAL, and were also similar across three esophageal locations. This implies that a single biopsy in either FFPE or RNAL from anywhere in the esophagus may have the potential for genetic diagnosis of EoE.


Eosinophilic esophagitis, gene expression, RNA, paraffin, biopsy, transcriptome.