Store and stabilize RNA samples with RNAlater

Invitrogen RNAlater Stabilization Solution is an aqueous, nontoxic tissue RNA stabilization and storage reagent that rapidly permeates tissues to stabilize and protect cellular RNA. RNAlater solution minimizes the need to immediately process tissue samples or to freeze samples in liquid nitrogen for later processing. Tissue pieces can be harvested and submerged in RNAlater solution for storage without jeopardizing the quality or quantity of RNA obtained after subsequent RNA isolation.

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Tissue stability over time with use of RNAlater stabilization and storage solution

Tissue stability over time with use of RNAlater stabilization and storage solution

Benefits of RNAlater

  • Immediate RNase inactivation
  • Freedom from liquid nitrogen and freezers
  • Minimizes freezing and grinding
  • Ideal for field collection
  • Flexible tissue storage
  • Compatible with most RNA isolation procedures including all of the Invitrogen Ambion RNA isolation kits
  • Compatible with gene expression and gene-profiling data
  • Reliable tissue archiving without RNA degradation

Product selection guide


stabilization products

RNAlater tissue collection: RNA Stabilization SolutionAqueous, nontoxic tissue storage reagent that rapidly permeates tissue to stabilize and protect the integrity of RNA in unfrozen tissue samples, minimizing the need to immediately process or freeze tissue samples in liquid nitrogen.
RNAlater-ICE Frozen Tissue Transition Solution
Prevents RNA degradation during tissue thawing and minimizes the laborious grinding of frozen tissue, while safeguarding the RNA

Video: How to stabilize RNA in fresh specimens

Learn how to quickly and easily stabilize and protect RNA in fresh specimens. RNAlater Stabilization Solution eliminates the need to immediately process samples, freeze them in liquid nitrogen, or rush them to the freezer.

How do I use RNAlater solution?

Trim the tissue to be less than 0.5 cm in at least one dimension and simply submerge it in 5 volumes of RNAlater solution (e.g., a 0.5 g sample requires about 2.5 mL of RNAlater solution). Small organs such as rat kidney, liver, and spleen can be stored whole in RNAlater solution. Resuspend pelleted cells in a small amount of PBS before adding 5–10 volumes of RNAlater solution. Samples can be stored at 4°C for one month, at 25°C for one week, or at –20°C indefinitely. Archive tissues treated with RNAlater solution at –20°C.

For RNA isolation, simply remove the tissue from RNAlater solution and treat it as though it was just harvested. Most tissues can be homogenized directly in lysis buffer, although harder tissues such as bone may require freezing in liquid nitrogen and grinding.

RNAlater storage workflow for fresh tissues and cells

RNAlater workflow

Is RNAlater solution compatible with my system?

RNAlater  solution has been tested on a variety of mammalian tissues, plants, E. coli, Xenopus, fish, and Drosophila. It has been successfully used with all of our Ambion RNA isolation kits (Figure 1), including RNAqueous, ToTALLY RNA, RNA WIZ, and Poly(A)Purist Kits, as well as TRI Reagent products (MRC). Other commercial RNA isolation kits and standard RNA isolation protocols are also compatible with RNAlater solution.

gel data on compatibility of various RNA isolation methods with RNAlater solution.
Figure 1. Compatibility of various RNA isolation methods with RNAlater solution.
Freshly dissected whole mouse liver and heart were placed in RNAlater solution and stored at 4°C for three days. RNA was isolated from equal mass amouts of each tissue using Ambion's ToTALLY RNA, RNAqueous, or Poly(A)Purist kits.

Does RNAlater solution preserve the histology of tissues?

Recent research by Drs. Scott Florell and Sancy Leachman at the Huntsman Cancer Institute [Mod Pathol 14:116 (2001)] demonstrates that RNAlater solution does preserve the histology of tissues. A blinded study was performed in which two pathologists compared human tissue sections that were immediately processed for histology (fixed in formalin and embedded in paraffin, or frozen sectioned) to samples stored in RNAlater solution, rinsed, and then processed for histology. Their results indicate that morphological detail and staining characteristics were identical for the two groups of samples. An example of their findings is presented in Figure 2. In addition to excellent staining and preservation of morphological detail, many immunohistological stains performed equally well in the RNAlater solution–preserved samples, suggesting preservation in RNAlater solution caused no damage to cellular epitopes.

Comparison of stored tissue samples

Cross section of stored tissue

Figure 2. Histology of RNAlater solution–preserved tissue. RNAlater solution–preserved samples are suitable for histology and provide excellent morphological detail. Sections made from RNAlater-preserved material were indistinguishable from slides made from untreated samples when examined for standard histological criteria. (A). H&E stained, frozen section of human skin preserved for one week in RNAlater solution prior to processing. (B). Stained as above but formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded section of human skin preserved for one week in RNAlater solution prior to processing.


How practical is RNAlater solution?

This convenient and inexpensive product preserves the integrity of your precious RNA and saves you the time and trouble of grinding frozen tissue in liquid nitrogen. RNAlater solution is economical and can be stored at room temperature.

RNAlater solution technical resources

TechNotes articles

Protocols and manuals

Supplemental protocols


  • RNAlater Preserves Bacterial Gene Expression Profiles for Array Analysis
    Here we show that RNAlater solution immediately stabilizes RNA expression profiles in both gram-positive and gram-negative species. RNA was isolated from the bacteria with and without RNAlater solution treatment, and RNA integrity was evaluated on the Agilent 2100 bioanalyzer and by membrane filter–based array analysis.