Label-free quantification of imaging features in the extracellular matrix of left and right-sided colon cancer tissues


Arora B, Kulkarni A, Markus MA, Ströbel P, Bohnenberger H, Alves F, Ramos-Gomes F


Scientific Reports


Sci Rep. 2024 Mar 29;14(1):7510.


The molecular pathogenesis of colorectal cancer is known to differ between the right and left side of the colon. Several previous studies have focussed on the differences in clinicopathological features, proteomic and genetic biomarkers, the composition of gut microbiota, response to therapy, and the characteristics of the tumour microenvironment. However, the morphology and density of collagen in the extracellular matrix (ECM) have not been studied intensively. In this study, we employed 2-photon laser scanning microscopy (2PLSM) to visualise the intrinsic second-harmonic generation (SHG) signal emitted by collagen fibres in the heterogeneous ECM of human colon tumour tissues. Through texture analysis of the SHG signal, we quantitatively distinguished the imaging features generated by structural differences of collagen fibres in healthy colon and cancers and found marked differences. The fibres inside of tumours exhibited a loss of organisation, particularly pronounced in right-sided colon cancer (RSCC), where the chaotic regions were significantly increased. In addition, a higher collagen content was found in left-sided colon cancer (LSCC). In future, this might aid in subclassification and therapeutic decisions or even in designing new therapy regimens by taking into account the differences between collagen fibres features between colon tumours located at different sides.


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