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J Pathol. 2000 Mar;190(4):503-11.

Cultured human fibroblasts in agarose gel as a multi-functional control for immunohistochemistry. Standardization Of Ki67 (MIB1) assessment in routinely processed urinary bladder carcinoma tissue.

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Department of Genetics and Pathology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


Immunohistochemistry (IHC) in clinical practice is hampered by lack of standardization and by subjectivity in interpretation and quantitation. This study aimed to develop a control system for IHC in routinely fixed and histoprocessed tissues. Such a system should be easy to handle in clinical practice and should reflect variations in fixation time, section thickness, section storage conditions, and staining protocols. In addition, in image analysis quantitation of immunostained tissues, when using classifiers computed on IHC-control images, the control system should be very stable. Cultured human fibroblasts were suspended in agarose, transferred into a length of tubing and stored at 4 degrees C. Three pieces of the cellgel control were separately fixed, histoprocessed, and paraffin-embedded as external controls. One piece was prepared together with each of 18 bladder carcinoma biopsies as internal controls. Slides with sections from the biopsy and all types of cellgel controls were stored at different temperatures and then stained using three different IHC protocols. The fibroblasts were homogeneously distributed in the agarose gel. Variation in section thickness did not influence immunostaining as evaluated by the MIB1 labelling index (MIB1 LI). The external controls decreased notably in MIB1 LI with increased fixation time. This was not seen in the 18 internal controls that were each fixed with a fresh biopsy. However, section storage and immunostaining conditions influenced the MIB1 expression equally in all control types and to a similar degree to the biopsies. Furthermore, colour-based image analysis quantitation of MIB1 LI in biopsies proved stable and independent of the control type used to compute the classifier.

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