Laser capture microdissection: Big data from small samples

Histol Histopathol. 2015 Nov;30(11):1255-69. doi: 10.14670/HH-11-622. Epub 2015 Apr 20.


Any tissue is made up of a heterogeneous mix of spatially distributed cell types. In response to any (patho) physiological cue, responses of each cell type in any given tissue may be unique and cannot be homogenized across cell-types and spatial co-ordinates. For example, in response to myocardial infarction, on one hand myocytes and fibroblasts of the heart tissue respond differently. On the other hand, myocytes in the infarct core respond differently compared to those in the peri-infarct zone. Therefore, isolation of pure targeted cells is an important and essential step for the molecular analysis of cells involved in the progression of disease. Laser capture microdissection (LCM) is powerful to obtain a pure targeted cell subgroup, or even a single cell, quickly and precisely under the microscope, successfully tackling the problem of tissue heterogeneity in molecular analysis. This review presents an overview of LCM technology, the principles, advantages and limitations and its down-stream applications in the fields of proteomics, genomics and transcriptomics. With powerful technologies and appropriate applications, this technique provides unprecedented insights into cell biology from cells grown in their natural tissue habitat as opposed to those cultured in artificial petri dish conditions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / analysis
  • Cell Separation* / methods
  • Gene Expression Profiling* / methods
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genomics* / methods
  • Humans
  • Laser Capture Microdissection* / methods
  • Proteomics


  • Biomarkers
  • Genetic Markers