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Microfluidics-based immunofluorescence for fast staining of ALK in lung adenocarcinoma

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Background: Anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) is a key oncogenic driver in lung adenocarcinoma patients and its fusion proteins are routinely assessed. The microfluidic tissue processor (MTP) device is based on a chip-confined low-volume technology allowing for rapid immunohistochemistry/immunofluorescence (IHC/IF) stainings of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) or frozen tissue samples. Methods: A novel ALK IF protocol was developed for the MTP device using the primary mouse anti-human ALK antibody clone 5A4. FFPE tumor whole sections from 14 resected lung adenocarcinoma patients documented to be ALK positive (ALK+) by automated chromogenic IHC and/or FISH were used. MTP-derived IF immunoreactivity was measured by computerized analysis of digitalized images on individual frames of tumor epithelia and surrounding stroma, using an ImageJ plug-in. Results: The 5A4 antibody yielded saturated immunoreactivity at an incubation time of 4min on a titration curve ranging from 2 to 32min. Total staining time on the MTP device was 18min including secondary IgG Alexa Fluor 647. MTP-based ALK IF confirmed all 12 cases; with epithelial signal above stromal staining based on computerized pixel-based measurement. MTP-IF (mean intensity levels 458 to 1301) and chromogenic IHC (H-score 120 to 300) showed an equal range of variation of 2.8 and 2.5 folds, respectively, and a trend for direct correlation (p-value 0.051). Conclusion: The newly developed protocol for immunofluorescent detection of ALK protein with the MTP device confirms chromogenic IHC results on FFPE lung adenocarcinoma specimens. MTP-based IF is fast and reliable. We foresee this study to be a first step opening the road for further realization of microfluidic-based assays for rapid simultaneous detection of targetable oncogenic and immune-system related markers in their topographical context to investigate tumour heterogeneity and micro-environmental interactions.




Brajkovic, S., Pelz, B., Procopio, M. G., Leblond, A. L., Repond, G., Schaub-Clerigué, A., … Soltermann, A. (2018). Microfluidics-based immunofluorescence for fast staining of ALK in lung adenocarcinoma. Diagnostic Pathology, 13(1).

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