Infrared spectral histopathology for cancer diagnosis: a novel approach for automated pattern recognition of colon adenocarcinoma
Histopathology remains the gold standard method for colon cancer diagnosis. Novel complementary approaches for molecular level diagnosis of the disease are need of the hour. Infrared (IR) imaging could be a promising candidate method as it probes the intrinsic chemical bonds present in a tissue, and provides a “spectral fingerprint” of the biochemical composition. To this end, IR spectral histopathology, which combines IR imaging and data processing techniques, was employed on seventy seven paraffinized colon tissue samples (48 tumoral and 29 non-tumoral) in the form of tissue arrays. To avoid chemical deparaffinization, a digital neutralization of the spectral interference of paraffin was implemented. Clustering analysis was used to partition the spectra and construct pseudo-colored images, for assigning spectral clusters to various tissue structures (normal epithelium, malignant epithelium, connective tissue etc.). Based on the clustering results, linear discriminant analysis was then used to construct a stringent prediction model which was applied on samples without a priori histopathological information. The predicted spectral images not only revealed common features representative of the colonic tissue biochemical make-up, but also highlighted additional features like tumor budding and tumor-stroma association in a label-free manner. This novel approach of IR spectral imaging on paraffinized tissues showed 100% sensitivity and allowed detection and differentiation of normal and malignant colonic features based purely on their intrinsic biochemical features. This non-destructive methodology combined with multivariate statistical image analysis appears as a promising tool for colon cancer diagnosis and opens up the way to the concept of numerical spectral histopathology.