Oncology letters

Visualization of basement membranes in normal breast and breast cancer tissues using multiphoton microscopy.

PMID 27313695


Since basement membranes represent a critical barrier during breast cancer progression, timely imaging of these signposts is essential for early diagnosis of breast cancer. A label-free method using multiphoton microscopy (MPM) based on two-photon excited fluorescence signals and second harmonic generation signals for analyzing the morphology of basement membrane in normal and cancerous breast tissues is likely to enable a better understanding of the pathophysiology of breast cancer and facilitate improved clinical management and treatment of this disease. The aim of this study was to determine whether MPM has the potential for label-free assessment of the morphology of basement membrane in normal and cancerous breast tissues. A total of 60 tissue section samples (comprising 30 fresh breast cancer specimens and 30 normal breast tissues) were first imaged (fresh, unfixed and unstained) with MPM and are then processed for routine hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) histopathology. Comparisons were made between MPM imaging and gold standard sections for each specimen stained with H&E. Simply by visualizing morphological features appearing on multiphoton images, cancerous lesions may be readily identified by the loss of basement membrane and tumor cells characterized by irregular size and shape, enlarged nuclei and increased nuclear-cytoplasmic ratio. These results suggest that MPM has potential as a label-free method of imaging the morphology of basement membranes and cell features to effectively distinguish between normal and cancerous breast tissues.

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