Application of Raman spectroscopy for detection of histologically distinct areas in formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded glioblastoma

Gilbert Georg Klamminger, Jean Jacques Gérardy, Finn Jelke, Giulia Mirizzi, Rédouane Slimani, Karoline Klein, Andreas Husch, Frank Hertel, Michel Mittelbronn, Felix B. Kleine-Borgmann*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Although microscopic assessment is still the diagnostic gold standard in pathology, non-light microscopic methods such as new imaging methods and molecular pathology have considerably contributed to more precise diagnostics. As an upcoming method, Raman spectroscopy (RS) offers a "molecular fingerprint" that could be used to differentiate tissue heterogeneity or diagnostic entities. RS has been successfully applied on fresh and frozen tissue, however more aggressively, chemically treated tissue such as formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded (FFPE) samples are challenging for RS.

Methods: To address this issue, we examined FFPE samples of morphologically highly heterogeneous glioblastoma (GBM) using RS in order to classify histologically defined GBM areas according to RS spectral properties. We have set up an SVM (support vector machine)-based classifier in a training cohort and corroborated our findings in a validation cohort.

Results: Our trained classifier identified distinct histological areas such as tumor core and necroses in GBM with an overall accuracy of 70.5% based on the spectral properties of RS. With an absolute misclassification of 21 out of 471 Raman measurements, our classifier has the property of precisely distinguishing between normal-appearing brain tissue and necrosis. When verifying the suitability of our classifier system in a second independent dataset, very little overlap between necrosis and normal-appearing brain tissue can be detected.

Conclusion: These findings show that histologically highly variable samples such as GBM can be reliably recognized by their spectral properties using RS. As conclusion, we propose that RS may serve useful as a future method in the pathological toolbox.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbervdab077
Pages (from-to)vdab077
JournalNeuro-Oncology Advances
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jun 2021


  • FFPE
  • glioblastoma
  • machine learning
  • pathology
  • Raman spectroscopy


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