Tissue microarray as a research tool to study non-neoplastic liver diseases

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The experience with the tissue microarray (TMA) in non-neoplastic liver diseases is markedly limited. The aim of this pilot study was to answer several technical questions relevant to the application of this important tool to the field of liver disease research.

Materials and methods

A mathematical model was generated on the basis of the surface areas of different TMA cores in comparison with the minimum surface area recommended for the diagnosis of diffuse liver diseases. Then, several TMAs were assembled from 68 different samples. Immunohistochemistry using four different antibodies was carried out to test the utility of TMA for various applications.


On the basis of our mathematical model, 35.4, 12.7, 5.7, and 3.2 cores would have the equivalent surface area to the one obtained from a 14-G tru-cut needle biopsy. For the 1.5 mm array platform, the average number of portal tracts observed in each tissue core was 1.8±0.7 (range 1.1–2.5), whereas for the 2 mm platform, the average number of portal tracts was 4.3±1 (range 3.3–4.3). Immunohistochemistry showed a uniform staining pattern for the nontumor samples and marked heterogeneity for some of the tumor samples that represented different areas of the tumors.


The results from this study suggested that TMA platforms utilizing large core punching needles are more suitable for the study of non-neoplastic liver diseases and that for the 2 and 1.5 mm platforms, three and six cores from each sample, respectively, will contain 10–12 portal areas for assessment of the disease process.

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