Spatial and molecular resolution of diffuse malignant mesothelioma heterogeneity by integrating label-free FTIR imaging, laser capture microdissection and proteomics

Sci Rep. 2017 Mar 30;7:44829. doi: 10.1038/srep44829.


Diffuse malignant mesothelioma (DMM) is a heterogeneous malignant neoplasia manifesting with three subtypes: epithelioid, sarcomatoid and biphasic. DMM exhibit a high degree of spatial heterogeneity that complicates a thorough understanding of the underlying different molecular processes in each subtype. We present a novel approach to spatially resolve the heterogeneity of a tumour in a label-free manner by integrating FTIR imaging and laser capture microdissection (LCM). Subsequent proteome analysis of the dissected homogenous samples provides in addition molecular resolution. FTIR imaging resolves tumour subtypes within tissue thin-sections in an automated and label-free manner with accuracy of about 85% for DMM subtypes. Even in highly heterogeneous tissue structures, our label-free approach can identify small regions of interest, which can be dissected as homogeneous samples using LCM. Subsequent proteome analysis provides a location specific molecular characterization. Applied to DMM subtypes, we identify 142 differentially expressed proteins, including five protein biomarkers commonly used in DMM immunohistochemistry panels. Thus, FTIR imaging resolves not only morphological alteration within tissue but it resolves even alterations at the level of single proteins in tumour subtypes. Our fully automated workflow FTIR-guided LCM opens new avenues collecting homogeneous samples for precise and predictive biomarkers from omics studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Laser Capture Microdissection
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Lung Neoplasms / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mesothelioma / diagnosis*
  • Mesothelioma / metabolism*
  • Mesothelioma, Malignant
  • Middle Aged
  • Proteome / metabolism
  • Proteomics / methods
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Workflow


  • Biomarkers
  • Proteome