Histopathology and immunohistology remain the gold standard for breast cancer diagnostic. Yet, these approaches do not usually provide a sufficiently detailed characterization of the pathology. The purpose of this work is to demonstrate for the first time that elemental analysis and Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy microscopic examination of breast tissue sections can be merged into one dataset to provide a single set of markers based on both organic molecules and inorganic trace elements. For illustrating the method, 6 mammary tissue sections were used. Fourier transform infrared (FTIR) spectroscopy images reported a fingerprint of the organic molecules present in the tissue section and laser ablation elemental analysis (LA-ICP-MS) images brought inorganic element profiles. The 6 tissue sections provided 31 106 and 150,000 spectra for FTIR and LA-ICP-MS spectra respectively. The results bring the proof of concept that breast tissue can be analyzed simultaneously by FTIR spectroscopy and laser ablation elemental analysis (LA-ICP-MS) to provide in both case reasonably high resolution images. We show how to bring the images obtained by the two methods to a same spatial resolution and how to use image registration to analyze the data originating from both techniques as one block of data. We finally demonstrates the elemental analysis is orthogonal to all FTIR markers as no significant correlation is found between FTIR and LA-ICP-MS data. Combining FTIR and LA-ICP-MS imaging becomes possible, providing two orthogonal methods which can bring an unprecedented diversity of information on the tissue. This opens a new avenue of tissue section analyses providing unprecedented diagnostic potential.
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