Label-free nonlinear microscopy enables nonperturbative visualization of structural and metabolic contrast within living cells in their native tissue microenvironment. Here a computational pipeline was developed to provide a quantitative view of the microenvironmental architecture within cancerous tissue from label-free nonlinear microscopy images. To enable single-cell and single-extracellular vesicle (EV) analysis, individual cells, including tumor cells and various types of stromal cells, and EVs were segmented by a multiclass pixelwise segmentation neural network and subsequently analyzed for their metabolic status and molecular structure in the context of the local cellular neighborhood. By comparing cancer tissue with normal tissue, extensive tissue reorganization and formation of a patterned cell–EV neighborhood was observed in the tumor microenvironment. The proposed analytic pipeline is expected to be useful in a wide range of biomedical tasks that benefit from single-cell, single–EV, and cell-to-EV analysis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2534-2544
Number of pages11
JournalCancer Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 1 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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