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Anal Quant Cytol Histol. 2004 Aug;26(4):194-200.

Sampling strategy for prostate tissue microarrays for Ki-67 and androgen receptor biomarkers.

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Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, Department of Biostatistics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, USA.



To develop an optimal sampling strategy for tissue microarrays using automated digital analysis for androgen receptor (heterogeneous expression) and the cellular proliferation marker Ki-67 (homogeneous expression and evaluated by others using nonautomated methods).


Tissue microarrays were constructed from 23 radical prostatectomy specimens and immunostained for androgen receptor expression and cellular proliferation. Automated digital image analysis was used, and the minimum number of cores necessary to capture variance change <3% was determined. Androgen receptor immunostaining was described by percent positive nuclei (PPN) and mean optical density (MOD).


Androgen receptor PPN variance measurements showed that 5 cores should be obtained when a single block of a radical prostatectomy specimen contained cancer. If all of 15 blocks contained cancer, 2 cores should be obtained from each of 6 blocks. An optimal sampling strategy was developed for androgen receptor PPN, androgen receptor MOD and Ki-67 PPN.


The selection of the number of cores to sample is a tradeoff between the number of cores available that contain cancer and the amount of work involved in the analysis. Sampling no fewer than 5 but no more than 12 cores per radical prostatectomy specimen can capture tissue heterogeneity.

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