Quantifying collagen fiber orientation in breast cancer using quantitative phase imaging
Tumor progression in breast cancer is significantly influenced by its interaction with the surrounding stromal tissue. Specifically, the composition, orientation, and alignment of collagen fibers in tumor-adjacent stroma affect tumor growth and metastasis. Most of the work done on measuring this prognostic marker has involved imaging of collagen fibers using second-harmonic generation microscopy (SHGM), which provides label-free specificity. Here, we show that spatial light interference microscopy (SLIM), a label-free quantitative phase imaging technique, is able to provide information on collagen-fiber orientation that is comparable to that provided by SHGM. Due to its wide-field geometry, the throughput of the SLIM system is much higher than that of SHGM and, because of the linear imaging, the equipment is simpler and significantly less expensive. Our results indicate that SLIM images can be used to extract important prognostic information from collagen fibers in breast tissue, potentially providing a convenient high throughput clinical tool for assessing patient prognosis.