The accuracy and reliability of in situ studies may be compromised by qualitative interpretations. Quantitation imposes a greater degree of objectivity, is more reproducible, and facilitates the clarity of definitions. The aim of this study was to validate the utility of laser imaging systems for the in situ quantitative analysis of gene expression in tissue microarrays. Immunofluorescence was employed to quantify the expression of the tumour suppressor p53, a marker of proliferation (Ki67), an endothelial cell marker (CD31), and the mismatch repair proteins human Mut L homologue 1 and human Mut S homologue 2 in an arrayed series of colorectal tissues (n = 110). Quantitative data on this panel of antigens were compared objectively with qualitative scoring of immunohistochemical chromogen deposition. In addition, the expression of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF)-A, placental growth factor, hepatocyte growth factor, and c-Met mRNA was quantified by phosphor image analysis of in situ hybridization reactions. The quantified data on p53, Ki67, and CD31 expression were significantly associated with the pathologist's score (p < or = 0.001). While hepatocyte growth factor and placental growth factor were not up-regulated, c-Met expression was increased up to 2.5-fold and the median VEGF-A expression was elevated 4-fold (p = 0.003) in this series of colorectal tumours. Laser imaging systems are therefore feasible for high-throughput, quantitative profiling of tissue microarrays.
Copyright 2003 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.