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PLoS One. 2014 Sep 8;9(9):e107115. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0107115. eCollection 2014.

Label-free delineation of brain tumors by coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering microscopy in an orthotopic mouse model and human glioblastoma.

Author information

Neurosurgery, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
Clinical Sensoring and Monitoring, Department of Anesthesiology and Intensive Care Medicine, Faculty of Medicine Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.
Neuropathology, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technische Universität Dresden, Dresden, Germany.



Coherent anti-Stokes Raman scattering (CARS) microscopy provides fine resolution imaging and displays morphochemical properties of unstained tissue. Here, we evaluated this technique to delineate and identify brain tumors.


Different human tumors (glioblastoma, brain metastases of melanoma and breast cancer) were induced in an orthotopic mouse model. Cryosections were investigated by CARS imaging tuned to probe C-H molecular vibrations, thereby addressing the lipid content of the sample. Raman microspectroscopy was used as reference. Histopathology provided information about the tumor's localization, cell proliferation and vascularization.


The morphochemical contrast of CARS images enabled identifying brain tumors irrespective of the tumor type and properties: All tumors were characterized by a lower CARS signal intensity than the normal parenchyma. On this basis, tumor borders and infiltrations could be identified with cellular resolution. Quantitative analysis revealed that the tumor-related reduction of CARS signal intensity was more pronounced in glioblastoma than in metastases. Raman spectroscopy enabled relating the CARS intensity variation to the decline of total lipid content in the tumors. The analysis of the immunohistochemical stainings revealed no correlation between tumor-induced cytological changes and the extent of CARS signal intensity reductions. The results were confirmed on samples of human glioblastoma.


CARS imaging enables label-free, rapid and objective identification of primary and secondary brain tumors. Therefore, it is a potential tool for diagnostic neuropathology as well as for intraoperative tumor delineation.

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