Spatial Mapping of Myeloid Cells and Macrophages by Multiplexed Tissue Staining

Joshua Saylor, Zhaoxuan Ma, Helen S. Goodridge, Fangjin Huang, Anne E. Cress, Stephen J. Pandol, Stephen L. Shiao, Adriana C. Vidal, Lily Wu, Nicholas G. Nickols, Arkadiusz Gertych, Beatrice S. Knudsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


An array of phenotypically diverse myeloid cells and macrophages (MC&M) resides in the tumor microenvironment, requiring multiplexed detection systems for visualization. Here we report an automated, multiplexed staining approach, named PLEXODY, that consists of five MC&M-related fluorescently-tagged antibodies (anti - CD68, - CD163, - CD206, - CD11b, and - CD11c), and three chromogenic antibodies, reactive with high- and low-molecular weight cytokeratins and CD3, highlighting tumor regions, benign glands and T cells. The staining prototype and image analysis methods which include a pixel/area-based quantification were developed using tissues from inflamed colon and tonsil and revealed a unique tissue-specific composition of 14 MC&M-associated pixel classes. As a proof-of-principle, PLEXODY was applied to three cases of pancreatic, prostate and renal cancers. Across digital images from these cancer types we observed 10 MC&M-associated pixel classes at frequencies greater than 3%. Cases revealed higher frequencies of single positive compared to multi-color pixels and a high abundance of CD68+/CD163+ and CD68+/CD163+/CD206+ pixels. Significantly more CD68+ and CD163+ vs. CD11b+ and CD11c+ pixels were in direct contact with tumor cells and T cells. While the greatest percentage (~70%) of CD68+ and CD163+ pixels was 0–20 microns away from tumor and T cell borders, CD11b+ and CD11c+ pixels were detected up to 240 microns away from tumor/T cell masks. Together, these data demonstrate significant differences in densities and spatial organization of MC&M-associated pixel classes, but surprising similarities between the three cancer types.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number2925
JournalFrontiers in immunology
StatePublished - Dec 14 2018


  • FFPE
  • immunofluorescence
  • immunohistochemistry
  • macrophage
  • multiplex
  • myeloid
  • spatial profiling

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology


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