Multiparametric Analysis of the Tumor Microenvironment: Hypoxia Markers and Beyond
We have established a novel in situ protein analysis pipeline, which is built upon highly sensitive, multichannel immunofluorescent staining of paraffin sections of human and xenografted tumor tissue. Specimens are digitized using slide scanners equipped with suitable light sources and fluorescence filter combinations. Resulting digital images are subsequently subjected to quantitative image analysis using a primarily object-based approach, which comprises segmentation of single cells or higher-order structures (e.g., blood vessels), cell shape approximation, measurement of signal intensities in individual fluorescent channels and correlation of these data with positional information for each object. Our approach could be particularly useful for the study of the hypoxic tumor microenvironment as it can be utilized to systematically explore the influence of spatial factors on cell phenotypes, e.g., the distance of a given cell type from the nearest blood vessel on the cellular expression of hypoxia-associated biomarkers and other proteins reflecting their specific state of activation or function. In this report, we outline the basic methodology and provide an outlook on possible use cases.
KeywordsTumor microenvironment Tumor hypoxia Multiparametric image analysis Immunofluorescence Immunohistochemistry
The authors would like to thank Sysmex GmbH (Norderstedt, Germany) for providing access to slide scanners and scanning services.
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