An integrative platform for three-dimensional quantitative analysis of spatially heterogeneous metastasis landscapes

Ian H. Guldner, Lin Yang, Kyle R. Cowdrick, Qingfei Wang, Wendy V. Alvarez Barrios, Victoria R. Zellmer, Yizhe Zhang, Misha Host, Fang Liu, Danny Z. Chen, Siyuan Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Metastatic microenvironments are spatially and compositionally heterogeneous. This seemingly stochastic heterogeneity provides researchers great challenges in elucidating factors that determine metastatic outgrowth. Herein, we develop and implement an integrative platform that will enable researchers to obtain novel insights from intricate metastatic landscapes. Our two-segment platform begins with whole tissue clearing, staining, and imaging to globally delineate metastatic landscape heterogeneity with spatial and molecular resolution. The second segment of our platform applies our custom-developed SMART 3D (Spatial filtering-based background removal and Multi-chAnnel forest classifiers-based 3D ReconsTruction), a multi-faceted image analysis pipeline, permitting quantitative interrogation of functional implications of heterogeneous metastatic landscape constituents, from subcellular features to multicellular structures, within our large three-dimensional (3D) image datasets. Coupling whole tissue imaging of brain metastasis animal models with SMART 3D, we demonstrate the capability of our integrative pipeline to reveal and quantify volumetric and spatial aspects of brain metastasis landscapes, including diverse tumor morphology, heterogeneous proliferative indices, metastasis-associated astrogliosis, and vasculature spatial distribution. Collectively, our study demonstrates the utility of our novel integrative platform to reveal and quantify the global spatial and volumetric characteristics of the 3D metastatic landscape with unparalleled accuracy, opening new opportunities for unbiased investigation of novel biological phenomena in situ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number24201
JournalScientific reports
StatePublished - Apr 12 2016
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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