Precision-cut tissue slices (PTCS)

Precision-cut tissue slices (PTCS) are three-dimensional (3D) tissue explants that can be cultured ex vivo for additional studies of physiology, toxicology, and enzyme functions. Precision-cut tissue slices are typically made from human or animal organs, like lung, liver, kidney, etc. Tissue slices were first made by hand cutting with razor blades, but microtomes now help section PTCS that are consistent in thicknesses and have increased viability. Precision-cut tissue slices retain the anatomical architecture of the organ, cells in their original tissue-matrix configuration, metabolic activity, tissue homeostasis, and more. Thus, PTCS are a popular model for toxicological and pharmaceutical research because they closely recapitulate in vivo conditions. One area where PTCS is particularly useful is in respiratory research, where precision-cut lung slices (PCLS) allow for studying host-pathogen interactions.

Common problems with tissue slices for precision-cut tissue slices

Consistency of slice thicknesses and viability of precision-cut tissue slices are of highest importance when it comes to making PTCS. Many market vibratomes shear tissue samples while cutting slices, which cause damage to surfaces and decrease the viability of cells during incubation. If cutting blades push against the specimen or if the tissue is not stabilized during the cutting process, then precision-cut tissue slices will have inconsistent thicknesses which can hinder accurate data collection.

Making better tissue slices for PTCS

Compresstome® Vibrating Microtome

Because PTCS requires is such a fine and delicate laboratory technique, obtaining healthy tissue slices with a high number of viable cells is crucial to successful experiments. The process of cutting brain slices also needs to occur rapidly, to prevent cell death. Therefore, the process requires a vibratome that can quickly make high quality precision-cut tissue slices without shearing cells on the surface.

The Compresstome® vibrating microtome has been used for almost 20 years in PTCS research, particularly for precision-cut lung slices. How does the Compresstome® vibrating microtome producessmooth, consistent precision-cut tissue slices? It does so by:

    • Stabilizing the brain tissue during the cutting process through 360-degree agarose embedding
    • Allowing for faster slicing, which decreases time of damage to cells
    • Utilizing a high-frequency vibrating mechanism to reduce trauma to the top surface of tissue slices
    • Reducing tissue shearing by eliminating the Z-axis deflection of the cutting blade using our patented Auto Zero-Z® technology

Precision-cut tissue slices from liver can be made and incubated for further studies. An advantage is that PCLS can provide tissue slices that reflect the most physiologically relevant disease state.

Real lab examples of our microtomes for precision-cut tissue slices

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.

Making Precision-Cut Tissue Slices for Ex Vivo Assay Services

Visikol is a contract research services company focused on leveraging advanced imaging, 3D cell culture assays and digital pathology to accelerate the drug discovery and development process. In this webinar, Visikol explains the need for in vitro liver models to study livery injury. They demonstrate the standard assay format for creating precision-cut liver slices (PCLS), and explain how the Compresstome® VF-310-0Z vibrating microtome helps create uniform tissue slices that can be meaningfully compared between treatments. Visikol goes through how to use the Compresstome® step-by-step for making PCLS.

References and Protocols

Microtomes from Precisionary Instruments have been used by labs around the world, and cited in hundreds of peer-reviewed publications. Explore these references by experiment, animal model, and organ system. For convenience, we also put together key experimental protocols to help you.