Tissue microarray: a new technology for amplification of tissue resources

Cancer J. Jan-Feb 2001;7(1):24-31.


Tissue microarrays are a method of harvesting small disks of tissue from a range of standard histologic sections and placing them in an array on a recipient paraffin block such that hundreds of cases can be analyzed simultaneously. This technique allows maximization of tissue resources by analysis of small-core biop sies of blocks, rather than complete sections. Using this technology, a carefully planned array can be constructed with cases from pathology tissue block archives, such that a 20-year survival analysis can be performed on a cohort of 600 or more patients by use of only a few microliters of antibody in a single experiment. The reflex criticism of this technique is that the tissue analyzed is not representative, especially in antigens with heterogeneous staining patterns. This review addresses this issue, as well as the issue of antigen preservation or durability, which validates construction of arrays from archives. Strategies and methods of construction and analysis of the arrays are discussed, as well as some other unusual array applications. This technique can provide a highly efficient, high-throughput mechanism for evaluation of protein expression in large cohorts. It has the potential to allow validation of new genes at a speed comparable to the rapid rate of gene discovery afforded by DNA microarrays.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antigens / analysis
  • Blood Cells / pathology
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods*
  • Histocytological Preparation Techniques / methods*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Neoplasms / chemistry
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Precancerous Conditions / pathology*
  • Sequence Analysis / methods*


  • Antigens