Intratumoral heterogeneity is a critical factor when diagnosing and treating patients with cancer. Marked differences in the genetic and epigenetic backgrounds of cancer cells have been revealed by advances in genome sequencing, yet little is known about the phenotypic landscape and the spatial distribution of intratumoral heterogeneity within solid tumours. Here, we show that three-dimensional light-sheet microscopy of cleared solid tumours can identify unique patterns of phenotypic heterogeneity, in the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition and in angiogenesis, at single-cell resolution in whole formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) biopsy samples. We also show that cleared FFPE samples can be re-embedded in paraffin after examination for future use, and that our tumour-phenotyping pipeline can determine tumour stage and stratify patient prognosis from clinical samples with higher accuracy than current diagnostic methods, thus facilitating the design of more efficient cancer therapies.
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The authors would like to thank J. Szumiło, Department of Clinical Pathomorphology, Medical University of Lublin, Lublin, Poland for kindly providing human tissue samples. This study was supported by the Swedish Research Council (grants 2009-3364, 2010-4392 and 2013-3189 to P.U.), the Swedish Cancer Society (grant CAN2013/802 and CAN2016/801 to P.U.), the Swedish Brain Foundation (grant FO2017/0107 to P.U.), the Linnaeus Center in Developmental Biology for Regenerative Medicine (DBRM) (P.U.), a Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation Grant to the Center for Live Imaging of Cells at the Karolinska (CLICK) Institutet (P.U.), the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences (P.U.), the David and Astrid Hagelén Foundation (N.T.), the Takeda Science Foundation (N.T.), the Scandinavia-Japan Sasakawa Foundation (N.T. and S.K.), and the Wenner-Gren Foundation (S.K.). The light-sheet microscopy infrastructure used in this work received grants from the Strategic Research Area in Neuroscience – StratNeuro and the Strategic Research Area in Stem Cells and Regenerative Medicine – StratRegen supported by the Swedish government.
The authors declare no competing financial interests.
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A correction to this article is available online at https://doi.org/10.1038/s41551-017-0162-1.
Supplementary figures, tables and video legends.
Three-dimensional volume reconstruction of hTumour 1immunostained for E-cadherin.
Three-dimensional volume reconstruction of hTumour 3 immunostained for N-cadherin.
Three-dimensional volume reconstruction of hTumour 6 immunostained for CD34.
Three-dimensional volume reconstruction of the CD34 signal.
Single-cell 3D volume reconstruction of hTumour 7 immunostained for Vimentin.
Generation of centroids list (point cloud) from Hmaxima images.
Calculation of mean intensity value of each dots area.
Generation of binary images from XYZ coordinates.
Clinicopathological characteristics of 50 human urothelial FFPE samples.
Clinicopathological characteristics of 16 human ovarian cancer FFPE samples.
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Tanaka, N., Kanatani, S., Tomer, R. et al. Whole-tissue biopsy phenotyping of three-dimensional tumours reveals patterns of cancer heterogeneity. Nat Biomed Eng 1, 796–806 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41551-017-0139-0
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