Chemical Composition of Psammoma Bodies Revealed in Ovarian and Thyroid Cancer Tissues Using Infrared Microspectroscopy

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A recent study utilized infrared microspectroscopy to investigate the chemical composition of psammoma bodies (PBs) in ovarian and thyroid cancer tissues.

Abnormal calcium deposits in soft tissues can often be a clue that some cancerous diseases are taking effect in the human body. These are known as ectopic calcifications (1). However, a mystery remains regarding the exact mechanism behind their formation and their correlation with disease progression (1). Recently, a study published in Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Molecular and Biomolecular investigated the chemical composition of psammoma bodies (PBs) found in ovarian and thyroid cancer tissues (1).

Psammoma bodies are small calcifications commonly observed in certain types of tumors, including ovarian and thyroid cancers. In this study, the team utilized micro-Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (micro-FT-IR) to analyze the composition of these microcalcifications (1). By using micro-FT-IR analysis, the researchers detected a link between these calcifications and unhealthy tissues revealed that the PBs contained amorphous calcium carbonate phosphate (1).

Furthermore, the researchers discovered the presence of phospholipids in some PB grains, supporting the proposed formation mechanism wherein ovarian cancer cells induce the deposition of calcifications (1).

In addition to micro-FT-IR spectroscopy, the team employed other techniques such as X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy (XRF), inductively coupled plasma-optical emission spectroscopy (ICP-OES), and scanning electron microscopy (SEM) with energy dispersive X-ray spectroscopy (EDX) to determine the elements present in the PBs isolated from ovarian serous cancer tissues (1). The results indicated a composition comparable to PBs found in papillary thyroid, further highlighting the chemical similarity between these two types of calcifications.


To automate the detection of PBs, an automatic recognition method was developed based on the chemical similarity of the infrared spectra obtained from micro-FT-IR spectroscopy (1). By utilizing multivariate analysis, the researchers created a prediction model capable of identifying PB microcalcifications in ovarian and thyroid cancer tissues with high sensitivity, regardless of the tumor grade (1). As a result of this study, the researchers show that the method used can perform routine detection of macrocalcifications, eliminating the need for sample staining and reducing the subjectivity associated with conventional histopathological analysis (1).

The findings of this study provide crucial insights into the chemical composition of psammoma bodies and offer a promising avenue for the early diagnosis and prognosis of ovarian and thyroid cancers. With further development, the automated detection strategy using infrared microspectroscopy could significantly contribute to the field of cancer research and clinical practice, ultimately improving patient outcomes.


(1) Porcelli, F.; Verri, M.; De Santis, S.; Crescenzi, A.; Bianchi, A.; Felici, A. C.; Sotgiu, G.; Romano, S.; Orsini, M. Spectrochimica Acta Part A: Mol. Biomol. Spectrosc. 2023, 298, 122792. DOI: 10.1016/j.saa.2023.122792