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BioMed Research International
Volume 2015, Article ID 569071, 9 pages
Research Article

Quantitative Image Analysis of Epithelial and Stromal Area in Histological Sections of Colorectal Cancer: An Emerging Diagnostic Tool

1Department of Pathophysiology and Allergy Research, Medical University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
2TissueGnostics GmbH, 1020 Vienna, Austria
3Clinical Institute of Pathology, Medical University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
4Seewald Solutions, 4616 Weisskirchen/Traun, Austria
5Department of Clinical Pharmacy and Diagnostics, University of Vienna, 1090 Vienna, Austria
6Faculty of Automatic Control and Computer Engineering, “Gheorghe Asachi” Technical University of Iasi, 700050 Iasi, Romania

Received 23 July 2015; Revised 28 September 2015; Accepted 30 September 2015

Academic Editor: Hung-Ming Lam

Copyright © 2015 R. Rogojanu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In colorectal cancer (CRC), an increase in the stromal (S) area with the reduction of the epithelial (E) parts has been suggested as an indication of tumor progression. Therefore, an automated image method capable of discriminating E and S areas would allow an improved diagnosis. Immunofluorescence staining was performed on paraffin-embedded sections from colorectal tumors (16 samples from patients with liver metastasis and 18 without). Noncancerous tumor adjacent mucosa () and normal mucosa () were taken as controls. Epithelial cells were identified by an anti-keratin 8 (K8) antibody. Large tissue areas (5–63 mm2/slide) including tumor center, tumor front, and adjacent mucosa were scanned using an automated microscopy system (TissueFAXS). With our newly developed algorithms, we showed that there is more K8-immunoreactive E in the tumor center than in tumor adjacent and normal mucosa. Comparing patients with and without metastasis, the E/S ratio decreased by 20% in the tumor center and by 40% at tumor front in metastatic samples. The reduction of E might be due to a more aggressive phenotype in metastasis patients. The novel software allowed a detailed morphometric analysis of cancer tissue compartments as tools for objective quantitative measurements, reduced analysis time, and increased reproducibility of the data.