28. September 2022

How Does Imaging Mass Cytometry Work?

Visualization of tissue samples in biomedical research is necessary for drawing informative conclusions. Imaging techniques are valuable in providing this visualization, especially on microscales that are difficult to characterize and quantify without powerful technology.

The in-depth study of cellular phenotypes within tissues requires such visualization techniques, and imaging mass cytometry (IMC) is a robust tool that provides imaging solutions for 40 markers/cellular subpopulations in tissue. It is already widely used in various research fields such as oncology, immunotherapy, and personalized medicine.

This blog post will briefly summarize the methodological steps of performing IMC and review some important considerations for its use as a laboratory technique.

How to Perform Imaging Mass Cytometry

Mass cytometry analyzes samples of cell suspensions, while imaging mass cytometry expands mass cytometry’s analytical abilities to tissue samples.

IMC allows for 40 or more markers (identified by antibodies) to be imaged. The antibodies are paired to metal, instead of conventional fluorophores, for imaging purposes. This metal used in this tag is one that is not naturally occurring in cell samples, such as palladium.

A Step-by-Step IMC Process

The tissue sample is ablated by a microscaled laser with a spot size of approximately 1 μm. The ablated tissue matter is ionized and sent through a mass spectrometer for analysis. The mass spectrometer then assesses the metal markers, translating the data to pixels. As each metal isotopic marker passes through the mass spectrometer, each pixel is ablated. This process of converting vector data to an image of pixels is known as rasterization. Each marker can be used to create an image with a resolution and quality comparable to light and fluorescence microscopy imaging. However, the analysis of high numbers of markers is challenging.

Imaging Mass Cytometry Analysis With TissueGnostics

The power of TG’s contextual image analysis software StrataQuest, can be utilized to further image analysis and data extraction to inform research conclusions. StrataQuest can analyse high numbers of markers/cellular phenotypes in tissue sections. Not only single cell detection, co-expression analysis, and metastructure identification is possible, but also the establishment of spatial relationships between cellular phenotypes and/or morphological tissue entities. Results can be exported and displayed as images, graphs, charts, and maps.

TG is a pioneer in tissue cytometry, offering many advantages with our high performing line of products, which feature diverse whole-slide scanners, as well as image analysis solutions. If you are interested in learning more about the analysis of imaging mass cytometry, please check out the IMC analysis example mentioned above, or reach out as soon as possible to a member of the TissueGnostics team.


• https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fimmu.2019.02657/full

Are you also interested in Understanding the Tumour Immune Microenvironment?

or in How to Carry Out Complex Characterization of the Tissue Microenvironment?


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