Laser microdissection (LMD) is now a well-established method for isolating individual cells or intracellular structures from heterogeneous cell populations. In recent years, cell, DNA, RNA and protein-based technologies have been successfully coupled to LMD, and important information has been gathered through analysis of the genome, transcriptome, and more recently, the proteome of individual microdissected cells.
The purpose of this review is to summarize and compare the principles of various laser microdissection instruments and techniques, discuss sample preparation procedures for microdissection, and provide various examples of translational/clinical research applications of LMDs. New techniques developed specifically for improved isolation of stained, live or rare cells are also discussed.
LMD has become an indispensable tool for preparing homogeneous samples for sophisticated cellular or molecular analysis. Despite major technological advances, LMD’s labor requirements are still relatively high. However, an understanding of the advantages and disadvantages of LMD techniques and associated sample preparation procedures may help to introduce these methods earlier into routine clinical diagnosis. © 2006 International Society of Analytical Cytology
Both physiological and pathophysiological processes are governed by the complex arrangement of cell populations. However, modern cellular and molecular biological methods require pure samples for reliable and statistically relevant analysis. The development of LMD instruments has improved the hurdle of tissue complexity by making it possible to isolate defined cells from heterogeneous cell populations without unwanted contamination of cells. When followed by high-throughput genomic, transcriptomic, and proteomic analysis techniques, delineations of expression profiles of specific cell types or individual cells can be revealed that were hitherto hidden or obscured by the background of surrounding cells. The advent of LMD procedures will aid in the elucidation of biological processes and the understanding and classification of diseases by identifying novel genes/proteins, pathways and pathway networks not previously known to be associated with specific diseases.