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PLoS One. 2013 Nov 29;8(11):e81857. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0081857. eCollection 2013.

3-D visualization and quantitation of microvessels in transparent human colorectal carcinoma [corrected].

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  • 1Department of Chemical Engineering, National Tsing Hua University, Hsinchu, Taiwan.

Erratum in

  • PLoS One. 2013;8(12). doi:10.1371/annotation/b9f7e31f-460e-4fef-bfdf-038fadbf4c1b.


Microscopic analysis of tumor vasculature plays an important role in understanding the progression and malignancy of colorectal carcinoma. However, due to the geometry of blood vessels and their connections, standard microtome-based histology is limited in providing the spatial information of the vascular network with a 3-dimensional (3-D) continuum. To facilitate 3-D tissue analysis, we prepared transparent human colorectal biopsies by optical clearing for in-depth confocal microscopy with CD34 immunohistochemistry. Full-depth colons were obtained from colectomies performed for colorectal carcinoma. Specimens were prepared away from (control) and at the tumor site. Taking advantage of the transparent specimens, we acquired anatomic information up to 200 μm in depth for qualitative and quantitative analyses of the vasculature. Examples are given to illustrate: (1) the association between the tumor microstructure and vasculature in space, including the perivascular cuffs of tumor outgrowth, and (2) the difference between the 2-D and 3-D quantitation of microvessels. We also demonstrate that the optically cleared mucosa can be retrieved after 3-D microscopy to perform the standard microtome-based histology (H&E staining and immunohistochemistry) for systematic integration of the two tissue imaging methods. Overall, we established a new tumor histological approach to integrate 3-D imaging, illustration, and quantitation of human colonic microvessels in normal and cancerous specimens. This approach has significant promise to work with the standard histology to better characterize the tumor microenvironment in colorectal carcinoma.

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