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Multiplex Immunofluorescence Of Bone Marrow Core Biopsies: Visualizing The Bone Marrow Immune Contexture

Denise K. Walters, Diane F. Jelinek

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The ability to visualize and quantify the spatial arrangement and geographic proximity of immune cells with tumor cells provides valuable insight into the complex mechanisms underlying cancer biology and progression. Multiplexing, which involves immunofluorescence labeling and the visualization of multiple epitopes within formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissue sections, is a methodology that is being increasingly employed. Despite the power of immunofluorescence multiplex analysis, application of this technology to bone marrow core biopsies has not yet been realized. Given our specific long term goal to identify immune cells in proximity to bone marrow malignant plasma cells in multiple myeloma patients, we describe in this study adaptation of multiplex immunofluorescence analysis to this tissue. We first identified a blocking strategy that quenched autofluorescence. We next employed a multiplex strategy that uses a simple stripping solution to remove primary and secondary antibodies prior to subsequent rounds of staining. This method was found to be highly efficient and did not significantly alter antigenicity or tissue integrity. Our studies illustrate for the first time that immunofluorescence multiplexing is achievable in bone marrow core biopsies and will provide a novel opportunity to analyze the role of the immune contexture in disease progression of the monoclonal gammopathies.