06. March 2023

How Tissue Microarray Analysis (TMA) Impacts Tumor Immunology

There are a multitude of methods to study tumor immunology such as qPCR, FACS, or in-situ stainings of tissue sections. Tissue microarrays (TMA) are small tissue sections used in research and clinics for the analysis of all kinds of markers. Hundreds of small tissue sections, biopsied potentially from various patients, are placed into blocks of paraffin that serve as vessels; those paraffin blocks containing all tissue samples can be cut into thin slices, placed on a glass slide, and stained for any given target [1]. Advanced, high-throughput tissue microarray analysis can drastically increase the time efficiency as well as data output since it delivers information about many patients per slide.

One application could be for instance the analysis of TMAs of tumor sections in oncological studies to better understand cancer development, the behavior of the disease, and to gain new biomarkers. However, the quantitative analysis of TMAs can be very tricky since a high number of samples from different patients have to be analyzed on one slide. This blog post will provide a brief overview of how TMAs help researchers uncover knowledge about tumors, the streamlined TMA workflow from TissueGnostics, as well as a short case study of how TMA analysis impacts tumor immunology.

Tissue Microarrays Benefit Studies in Tumor Immunology

When preparing TMAs, tissue cores are extracted from tissue samples that are fixed with formalin and embedded with paraffin and then arranged in a specific configuration in a recipient block of paraffin which allows for rapid analysis of hundreds of samples (=TMA) [2]. The particular advantage of TMAs is that hundreds of tissue samples can be analyzed at once and data about tumor immunology as well as novel molecular biomarkers of cancer may be extracted. This knowledge can be used in the development of novel, targeted cancer therapies. Furthermore, this process allows for validation studies to be conducted and boosts the translatability of evidence to further cancer research into clinical stages [2].

Specifically, the usage of TMAs is advantageous to laboratory personnel in terms of time taken for experiments and analysis as well as resources used, since per slide potentially hundreds of patient tissues will be analyzed at once [2]. Also, the high amount of data extracted this way reduces variability and bolsters consistency in the evaluation and interpretation of information. Because paraffin blocks are a common way of preserving tissue samples, sources for tissue microarray analysis are more readily available to study [2], streamlining the entire tumor immunology study workflow.

Using Tissue Microarray Analysis for Tumor Immunology

Another important part of the evaluation of stained TMAs is the scanning and the analysis workflow. Since potentially hundreds of small tissue sections are placed on one slide, specific streamlined scanning and analysis workflows have to be available. TissueGnostics is providing such a workflow that automatically scans, analyses, and outputs data for each individual tissue core.

In a case study, researchers analyzed TMAs with the help of TissueGnostics tissue cytometry solution ‘IHC Immune Status in situ APP’ [3]. The analysis included tissue classification (tumor, stroma, tertiary lymphoid structures), single cell analysis, marker detection, and spatial analysis [3]. This data gave a clearer understanding of the proximity of certain immune cell populations and immune-cell aggregates to tumor cells.

TissueGnostics as a Leader in Developing Solutions for Research in Tumor Immunology

The life science solution specialists at TissueGnostics work to develop high-end tissue cytometers that enable innovative, streamlined, robust data collection through advanced TMA analysis for tumor immunology applications. For instance, the TissueFAXS by TissueGnostics has a special TMA workflow available which allows for important detecting and scanning of small regions that are often difficult to analyze.

The experienced team at TissueGnostics will support you to streamline tumor immunology research at your lab. More information about technology and workflows that simplify tumor immunology studies can be found online at the TissueGnostics website. If you are interested in learning more about TMA analysis, please reach out to a member of the TissueGnostics team today and they would be happy to help.


  1. THE APPLICATION OF TISSUE MICROARRAYS TO CANCER RESEARCH. (2022). Pathology. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/003130201200338791
  2. Voduc, D., Kenney, C., & Nielsen, T. O. (2008). Tissue Microarrays in Clinical Oncology. Seminars in Radiation Oncology, 18(2), 89–97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.semradonc.2007.10.006
  3. TissueGnostics. (2022). Tumor Immunology | Immunological Investigations. Tissuegnostics.com. https://tissuegnostics.com/products/contextual-image-analysis/strataquest-app/ihc-immune-status-in-situ-app-tumor-immunology

Are you also interested in a demonstrative case study on TMA image analysis?

or in Spectral imaging and spatial analysis of TMA samples?


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