Control tissue in brain banking: the importance of thorough neuropathological assessment

M. Nolan*, C. Troakes, A. King, I. Bodi, S. Al-Sarraj

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)
145 Downloads (Pure)


Historically, control brain tissue was classified as such mainly by clinical history, and underwent limited neuropathological analysis. Significant progress has been made in recent years with the collection of more extensive clinical information and more specific classifications of neurodegenerative disease, aided by advances in histological processing and increasingly sensitive detection methods. We hypothesised that this may have resulted in certain pathologies previously going unidentified, due to insufficient block sampling and an inadequate range of stains, resulting in the disease not being recognised. We therefore investigated the significance of changes to our own protocols for examining control brain tissue before and after 2007. Control cases that were originally assessed before 2007 were re-assessed using our current staining protocol and antibodies, and compared with age-matched cases post-2007. We found that almost all cases that were originally described as neuropathologically normal displayed some level of pathology after re-analysis, with four cases displaying what we have termed ‘major’ pathology that previously went unidentified, emphasising on a small scale the importance of accurate neuropathological analysis of control tissue, and highlighting the inherent difficulty of traditionally classifying tissue simply as ‘disease’ or ‘control’. We hope our findings will stimulate debate within the brain banking community, with the eventual aim being standardisation of protocols for assessing controls across brain banks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)949-956
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of neural transmission (Vienna, Austria : 1996)
Issue number7
Early online date15 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2015


  • Brain banking
  • Brain donation
  • Control tissue
  • Histology
  • Neuropathology
  • Tissue protocols


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