Tissue Microarrays: Construction and Uses
Tissue microarrays (TMAs) are produced by taking small punches from a series of paraffin-embedded (donor) tissue blocks and transferring these tissue cores into a positionally encoded array in a recipient paraffin block. Though TMAs are not used for clinical diagnosis, they have several advantages over using conventional whole histological sections for research. Tissue from multiple patients or blocks can be examined on the same slide, and only a very small amount of reagent is required to stain or label an entire array. Multiple sections (100–300) can be cut from a single array block, allowing for hundreds of analyses per microarray. These advantages allow the use of TMAs in high-throughput procedures, such as screening antibodies for diagnostics and validating prognostic markers that are impractical using conventional whole tissue sections. TMAs can be used for immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence, in situ hybridization, and conventional histochemical staining. Finally, several tissue cores may be taken without consuming the tissue block, allowing the donor block to be returned to its archive for any additional studies.