Guidelines and considerations for conducting experiments using tissue microarrays

Histopathology. 2013 May;62(6):827-39. doi: 10.1111/his.12118. Epub 2013 Apr 12.


Tissue microarrays (TMAs) represent a powerful method for undertaking large-scale tissue-based biomarker studies. While TMAs offer several advantages, there are a number of issues specific to their use which need to be considered when employing this method. Given the investment in TMA-based research, guidance on design and execution of experiments will be of benefit and should help researchers new to TMA-based studies to avoid known pitfalls. Furthermore, a consensus on quality standards for TMA-based experiments should improve the robustness and reproducibility of studies, thereby increasing the likelihood of identifying clinically useful biomarkers. In order to address these issues, the National Cancer Research Institute Biomarker and Imaging Clinical Studies Group organized a 1-day TMA workshop held in Nottingham in May 2012. The document herein summarizes the conclusions from the workshop. It includes guidance and considerations on all aspects of TMA-based research, including the pre-analytical stages of experimental design, the analytical stages of data acquisition, and the postanalytical stages of data analysis. A checklist is presented which can be used both for planning a TMA experiment and interpreting the results of such an experiment. For studies of cancer biomarkers, this checklist could be used as a supplement to the REMARK guidelines.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Academies and Institutes
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Data Interpretation, Statistical
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Quality Control
  • Tissue Array Analysis / methods
  • Tissue Array Analysis / standards*
  • Tissue Array Analysis / statistics & numerical data
  • United Kingdom


  • Biomarkers