Molecular pathology via IR and Raman spectral imaging

J Biophotonics. 2013 Dec;6(11-12):855-86. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201300131. Epub 2013 Nov 4.


During the last 15 years, vibrational spectroscopic methods have been developed that can be viewed as molecular pathology methods that depend on sampling the entire genome, proteome and metabolome of cells and tissues, rather than probing for the presence of selected markers. First, this review introduces the background and fundamentals of the spectroscopies underlying the new methodologies, namely infrared and Raman spectroscopy. Then, results are presented in the context of spectral histopathology of tissues for detection of metastases in lymph nodes, squamous cell carcinoma, adenocarcinomas, brain tumors and brain metastases. Results from spectral cytopathology of cells are discussed for screening of oral and cervical mucosa, and circulating tumor cells. It is concluded that infrared and Raman spectroscopy can complement histopathology and reveal information that is available in classical methods only by costly and time-consuming steps such as immunohistochemistry, polymerase chain reaction or gene arrays. Due to the inherent sensitivity toward changes in the bio-molecular composition of different cell and tissue types, vibrational spectroscopy can even provide information that is in some cases superior to that of any one of the conventional techniques.

Keywords: IR spectroscopy; Raman spectroscopy; cytopathology; histopathology.

Publication types

  • Editorial
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Pathology, Molecular / methods*
  • Spectrophotometry, Infrared / methods*
  • Spectrum Analysis, Raman / methods*