Cytomics is a novel perspective from which to look at life. As with genomics and proteomics before, this discipline requires novel and innovative techniques and technologies to focus on its substrate of research--the cytome. With cytomics being the discipline that analyzes cellular systems and their interdependencies, advanced microscopy represents a key technology in cytomics research. Yet, conventional microscopy-based investigations, i.e., "look and conclude" analyses, do not meet the major cytomics criteria of 1) relating multiple parameters to each other, 2) within large populations of cells, 3) on a single-cell basis, and 4) in a quantitative and observer-independent manner. However, emerging improvements in the fields of fluorophore technology, sensitive fluorescence detection devices, and sophisticated image analysis procedures, are important and necessary steps into the cytomics era. Tissue represents an important class of cytomes, hence tissue cytometry--on the single cell level--can be expected to become an important cytomics technology. In this report, the techniques and technologies of microscopy-based multicolor tissue cytometry (MMTC) are outlined and applications are discussed, including the phenotypic characterization of tissue infiltrating leukocytes, in situ quantification of proliferation markers and tumor suppressors, and in situ quantification of apoptosis.
Copyright 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.