Real-time assessment of excised tissue may help to improve surgical results in breast tumor surgeries. Here, as a step towards this purpose, the potential of second and third harmonic generation (SHG, THG) microscopy is explored. SHG and THG are nonlinear optical microscopic techniques that do not require labeling of tissue to generate 3D images with intrinsic depth-sectioning at sub-cellular resolution. Until now, this technique had been applied on fixated breast tissue or to visualize the stroma only, whereas most tumors start in the lobules and ducts. Here, SHG/THG images of freshly excised unprocessed healthy human tissue are shown to reveal key breast components—lobules, ducts, fat tissue, connective tissue and blood vessels, in good agreement with hematoxylin and eosin histology. DNA staining of fresh unprocessed mouse breast tissue was performed to aid in the identification of cell nuclei in label-free THG images. Furthermore, 2- and 3-photon excited auto-fluorescence images of mouse and human tissue are collected for comparison. The SHG/THG imaging modalities generate high quality images of freshly excised tissue in less than a minute with an information content comparable to that of the gold standard, histopathology. Therefore, SHG/THG microscopy is a promising tool for real-time assessment of excised tissue during surgery.
van Huizen, L. M. G., Kuzmin, N. V., Barbé, E., van der Velde, S., te Velde, E. A., & Groot, M. L. (2019). Second and third harmonic generation microscopy visualizes key structural components in fresh unprocessed healthy human breast tissue. Journal of biophotonics, 12, [e201800297]. https://doi.org/10.1002/jbio.201800297