RNA Integrity Number (RIN)

The RNA integrity number (RIN) is a software tool designed to help scientists estimate the integrity of total RNA samples. The expert software automatically assigns an integrity number to an eukaryote total RNA sample.Using this tool, sample integrity is no longer determined by the ratio of the ribosomal bands, but by the entire electrophoretic trace of the RNA sample. This includes the presence or absence of degradation products. In this way, interpretation of an electropherogram is facilitated, comparison of samples is enabled and repeatability of experiments is ensured. The assigned RIN is independent of sample concentration, instrument and analyst therefore becoming a de facto standard for RNA integrity.

The RNA Integrity Database (RINdb) is a freely accessible repository holding hundreds of user submitted total RNA traces. By searching the database scientists can now see what is a "normal" profile for different tissue types as well as the effects of using different RNA extraction methods and kits.

What the RIN can do:

  • Obtain a numerical assessment of the integrity of RNA.
  • Directly compare RNA samples, e.g. before and after archival, compare integrity of same tissue across different labs..
  • Ensure repeatability of experiments, e.g. if RIN shows a given value and is suitable for microarray experiments, then the RIN of the same value can always be used for similar experiments given that the same organism/tissue/extraction method is used.


  • What the RIN cannot do:

  • Tell a scientist ahead of time whether an experiment will work or not if no prior validation was done (e.g. RIN of 5 might not work for microarray experiments, but might work well for an appropriate RT-PCR experiment. Also, a RIN that might be good for a 3' amplification might not work for a 5' amplification).


  • Publications