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Advantages of the Compresstome®

  • Minimal tissue damage: The agarose fills in the airspace while compression stabilizes the tissue, allowing a smooth section.
  • Smooth sections: tissue stabilization = No artifacts
  • No squishing: the agarose fills in the air space, preventing squishing.

Problems with traditional vibrating microtomes

  • Delicate structure: Lung tissues have a delicate structure and can be easily damaged during sectioning, which can produce poor-quality sections. The vibratome blade may tear or crumple the tissue, making it difficult to obtain usable sections.
  • Variability in tissue density: The lung is composed of multiple cell types with different densities, which can make it challenging to produce uniform sections. The dense regions of the lung may cause the vibratome blade to skip or produce uneven section thickness.
  • Presence of air spaces: The lung contains air spaces that can cause the tissue to collapse or become distorted during sectioning. This can make it difficult to obtain sections that are representative of the tissue structure.

The Compresstome® is the most widely used tissue slicer in the United States for making precision-cut lung slices, providing healthier tissue for studies of respiratory physiology. For studies of lung anatomy and microstructures, the Compresstome® tissue slicer can section lung tissue as thin as 4µm. Fixed lung slices can then be processed for immunohistochemistry (IHC), in-situ hybridization (ISH), or H&E staining.

Recommended Models


Compresstome vibrating microtome

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Real lab examples

Using the Compresstome® in Immunotherapy Research

Dr Astero Klampatsa (PhD) is a Team Leader in Cancer Immunotherapy at the Institute of Cancer Research, London, UK and a Senior Lecturer in King’s College London, UK. She focuses on developing novel CAR T cell therapies for mesothelioma and lung cancer, as well as the immunobiology of these malignancies for identification of markers of response to immunotherapy. In this webinar, Dr. Klampatsa will discuss how the Compresstome® was used to create precision-cut tumor slices (PCTS) as an ex vivo model for immunotherapy research.

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Immunology and Infection: The Compresstome® for Precision-Cut Lung Slices

The Compresstome® has been widely used by researchers worldwide for making precision-cut lung slices (PCLS). The Compresstome® uses agarose embedding prior to slicing to allow for the preservation of open alveoli and better tissue compliance. The video above shows Compresstome® sectioning PCLS for immunostaining to visualize the localization of various immune cell types in the lung. This protocol can be extended to visualize the location and function of many different cell types under a variety of conditions.

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Slicing up the tumor: Lessons from attempted lung tumor slice cultures

Dr. Tsilingiri is working on tumor immunotherapy and using the Compresstome vibrating microtome to examine the interaction between tumor tissues and autologous lymph node cells in slice cultures. This work is being carried out in the frame of an EU-funded Consortium, Tumour-LNoC (Tumour-Lymph node on a chip), with the ultimate goal of mimicking the metastatic process on a chip and monitor metastasizing cells in real time.

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Precision cut lung slices (PCLS): A novel ex vivo model to study lung disease

Dr. Koziol-White showcased the versatility of the precision cut lung slice system that she has developed and utilized to study airway function for almost two decades.

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Precision cut lung slices (PCLS) for probing mechanisms of pulmonary fibrosis

Dr. Claudia Loebel’s research involves the development of PCLS to probe mechanisms of early epithelial cell differentiation during lung injury and fibrosis.

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Spatiotemporal Coordination of Stem Cell Behavior Following Alveolar Injury

Dr. Chioccioli:

  • Described motility of alveolar stem cells as a new injury response mechanism in the lung and reveal properties of stem cell motility at high cellular resolution
  • Explained early highly dynamic behavior of AT2 cells post injury, including migration within and between alveoli
  • Characterized the emergence of at least three distinct morphokinetic AT2 cell states associated with AT2 stem cell injury response
  • Shown how small molecule-based inhibition of Rho-associated protein kinase (ROCK) pathway significantly reduced motility of AT2 stem cells following injury and reduced expression of Krt8, a known marker of intermediate progenitor cells


Kim JH, Schaible N, Hall JK, Bartolák-Suki E, Deng Y, Herrmann J, Sonnenberg A, Behrsing HP, Lutchen KR, Krishnan R, Suki B. Multiscale stiffness of human emphysematous precision cut lung slices. Sci Adv. 2023 May 19;9(20):eadf2535. Epub 2023 May 19. PMID: 37205750; PMCID: PMC10198632. Download PDF

Lam M, Lamanna E, Organ L, Donovan C, Bourke JE. Perspectives on precision cut lung slices-powerful tools for investigation of mechanisms and therapeutic targets in lung diseases. Front Pharmacol. 2023 May 16;14:1162889. PMID: 37261291; PMCID: PMC10228656. Download PDF

Kim SY, Mongey R, Griffiths M, Hind M, Dean CH. An Ex Vivo Acid Injury and Repair (AIR) Model Using Precision-Cut Lung Slices to Understand Lung Injury and Repair. Curr Protoc Mouse Biol. 2020 Dec;10(4):e85. doi: 10.1002/cpmo.85. PMID: 33217226. Download PDF

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