Profiling cell-type specific gene expression in post-mortem human brain samples through laser capture microdissection

Methods. 2022 Nov;207:3-10. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2022.08.013. Epub 2022 Sep 3.


The transcriptome of a cell constitutes an essential piece of cellular identity and contributes to the multifaceted complexity and heterogeneity of cell-types within the mammalian brain. Thus, while a wealth of studies have investigated transcriptomic alterations underlying the pathophysiology of diseases of the brain, their use of bulk-tissue homogenates makes it difficult to tease apart whether observed differences are explained by disease state or cellular composition. Cell-type-specific enrichment strategies are, therefore, crucial in the context of gene expression profiling. Laser capture microdissection (LCM) is one such strategy that allows for the capture of specific cell-types, or regions of interest, under microscopic visualization. In this review, we focus on using LCM for cell-type specific gene expression profiling in post-mortem human brain samples. We begin with a discussion of various LCM systems, followed by a walk-through of each step in the LCM to gene expression profiling workflow and a description of some of the limitations associated with LCM. Throughout the review, we highlight important considerations when using LCM with post-mortem human brain samples. Whenever applicable, commercially available kits that have proven successful in the context of LCM with post-mortem human brain samples are described.

Keywords: Gene expression; Laser capture microdissection; Microscopy; Post-mortem human brain; RNA-sequencing.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain* / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Humans
  • Laser Capture Microdissection
  • Mammals
  • Transcriptome / genetics