Integrated Fourier Transform Infrared Imaging and Proteomics for Identification of a Candidate Histochemical Biomarker in Bladder Cancer

Am J Pathol. 2019 Mar;189(3):619-631. doi: 10.1016/j.ajpath.2018.11.018. Epub 2019 Feb 12.


Histopathological differentiation between severe urocystitis with reactive urothelial atypia and carcinoma in situ (CIS) can be difficult, particularly after a treatment that deliberately induces an inflammatory reaction, such as intravesical instillation of Bacillus Calmette-Guèrin. However, precise grading in bladder cancer is critical for therapeutic decision making and thus requires reliable immunohistochemical biomarkers. Herein, an exemplary potential biomarker in bladder cancer was identified by the novel approach of Fourier transform infrared imaging for label-free tissue annotation of tissue thin sections. Identified regions of interest are collected by laser microdissection to provide homogeneous samples for liquid chromatography-tandem mass spectrometry-based proteomic analysis. This approach afforded label-free spatial classification with a high accuracy and without interobserver variability, along with the molecular resolution of the proteomic analysis. Cystitis and invasive high-grade urothelial carcinoma samples were analyzed. Three candidate biomarkers were identified and verified by immunohistochemistry in a small cohort, including low-grade urothelial carcinoma samples. The best-performing candidate AHNAK2 was further evaluated in a much larger independent verification cohort that also included CIS samples. Reactive urothelial atypia and CIS were distinguishable on the basis of the expression of this newly identified and verified immunohistochemical biomarker, with a sensitivity of 97% and a specificity of 69%. AHNAK2 can differentiate between reactive urothelial atypia in the setting of an acute or chronic cystitis and nonmuscle invasive-type CIS.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Neoplasm Proteins / metabolism*
  • Proteomics*
  • Spectroscopy, Fourier Transform Infrared
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / diagnostic imaging
  • Urinary Bladder Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Urothelium* / diagnostic imaging
  • Urothelium* / metabolism


  • AHNAK2 protein, human
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Cytoskeletal Proteins
  • Neoplasm Proteins