Tissue microarrays: applications in genomic research

Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2005 Mar;5(2):171-81. doi: 10.1586/14737159.5.2.171.


The widespread application of tissue microarrays in cancer research and the clinical pathology laboratory demonstrates a versatile and portable technology. The rapid integration of tissue microarrays into biomarker discovery and validation processes reflects the forward thinking of researchers who have pioneered the high-density tissue microarray. The precise arrangement of hundreds of archival clinical tissue samples into a composite tissue microarray block is now a proven method for the efficient and standardized analysis of molecular markers. With applications in cancer research, tissue microarrays are a valuable tool in validating candidate markers discovered in highly sensitive genome-wide microarray experiments. With applications in clinical pathology, tissue microarrays are used widely in immunohistochemistry quality control and quality assurance. The timeline of a biomarker implicated in prostate neoplasia, which was identified by complementary DNA expression profiling, validated by tissue microarrays and is now used as a prognostic immunohistochemistry marker, is reviewed. The tissue microarray format provides opportunities for digital imaging acquisition, image processing and database integration. Advances in digital imaging help to alleviate previous bottlenecks in the research pipeline, permit computer image scoring and convey telepathology opportunities for remote image analysis. The tissue microarray industry now includes public and private sectors with varying degrees of research utility and offers a range of potential tissue microarray applications in basic research, prognostic oncology and drug discovery.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling* / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques / methods
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis* / methods
  • Organ Specificity / genetics
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / physiopathology*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor