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Immunohistochemistry or IHC refers to the process of localizing proteins in cells of a tissue section exploiting the principle of antibodies binding specifically to antigens in biological tissues.  It takes its name from the roots "immuno," in reference to antibodies used in the procedure, and "histo," meaning tissue (compare to immunocytochemistry). Immunohistochemical staining is widely used in the diagnosis of abnormal cells such as those found in cancerous tumors. Specific molecular markers are characteristic of particular cellular events such as proliferation or cell death (apoptosis). IHC is also widely used in basic research to understand the distribution and localization of biomarkers and differentially expressed proteins in different parts of a biological tissue.
Many uses of immunofluorescence have been outmoded by the development of recombinant proteins containing fluorescent protein domains, e.g. green fluorescent protein (GFP). Use of such "tagged" proteins allows much better localization and less disruption of protein function.
Applications of Immunofluorescence include:
- tagging proteins
Disadvantages with Immunohistochemistry
As with most fluorescence techniques, a significant problem with immunofluorescence is photobleaching. Loss of activity caused by photobleaching can be controlled by reducing the intensity or time-span of light exposure, by increasing the concentration of fluorophores, or by employing more robust fluorophores that are less prone to bleaching (e.g. Alexa Fluors or DyLight Fluors).
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