Embedding of tissue samples that maintains a desired orientation is critical for preparing sections suitable for diagnosis and study objectives. Methods to prepare tissue sections include: (i) paraffin embedding or snap-freezing followed by microtome or cryostat sectioning; and (ii) agarose embedding followed by cutting on a vibrating microslicer. Although these methods are useful for routine laboratory work, preparation of small and fragile tissues such as mouse organs, small human biopsy samples, and cultured floating spheres is difficult and requires special skills. In particular, tissue specimen orientation can be lost during embedding in molds and subsequent sectioning. Here, we developed a method using low melting temperature (LM) gelatin either alone or mixed with agarose to preliminarily embed collected tissues that are either prefixed or unfixed, followed by conventional fixation, paraffin embedding, freezing, and sectioning. The advantage of the method is that the LM gelatin and its mixture with agarose can be handled at room temperature but quickly hardens at 4°C, which allows embedding, trimming, and arranging of small and fragile tissues in a desired orientation and are compatible with traditional stainings. Thus, this method can have various laboratory applications and can be modified according to the needs of each laboratory.
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