CUBIC pathology: three-dimensional imaging for pathological diagnosis

Sci Rep. 2017 Aug 24;7(1):9269. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-09117-0.


The examination of hematoxylin and eosin (H&E)-stained tissues on glass slides by conventional light microscopy is the foundation for histopathological diagnosis. However, this conventional method has some limitations in x-y axes due to its relatively narrow range of observation area and in z-axis due to its two-dimensionality. In this study, we applied a CUBIC pipeline, which is the most powerful tissue-clearing and three-dimensional (3D)-imaging technique, to clinical pathology. CUBIC was applicable to 3D imaging of both normal and abnormal patient-derived, human lung and lymph node tissues. Notably, the combination of deparaffinization and CUBIC enabled 3D imaging of specimens derived from paraffin-embedded tissue blocks, allowing quantitative evaluation of nuclear and structural atypia of an archival malignant lymphoma tissue. Furthermore, to examine whether CUBIC can be applied to practical use in pathological diagnosis, we performed a histopathological screening of a lymph node metastasis based on CUBIC, which successfully improved the sensitivity in detecting minor metastatic carcinoma nodules in lymph nodes. Collectively, our results indicate that CUBIC significantly contributes to retrospective and prospective clinicopathological diagnosis, which might lead to the establishment of a novel field of medical science based on 3D histopathology.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biopsy
  • Carcinoma / diagnostic imaging
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Imaging, Three-Dimensional* / methods
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lung / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology
  • Lymph Nodes / diagnostic imaging*
  • Lymph Nodes / metabolism
  • Lymph Nodes / pathology
  • Lymphatic Metastasis
  • Mice
  • Molecular Imaging* / methods