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Biotech Histochem. 2006 Jan-Feb;81(1):3-12.

Standardization in immunohistochemistry: the role of antigen retrieval in molecular morphology.

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Department of Pathology, Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 90033, USA.


Molecular morphology seeks to integrate the traditional morphologic criteria of surgical pathology with immunohistochemical and in situ hybridization techniques that allow demonstration of a variety of molecules, proteins, RNA and DNA in a tissue section. While immunohistochemistry has proven to be successful for demonstrating lineage related biomarkers of value for diagnosis and classification of tumors, concerns have been raised periodically about validation of reagents, overall reproducibility of the staining method, and interpretation of results. These concerns have been heightened by the burgeoning interest in prognostic markers, where the question extends beyond a relatively simple positive or negative result to an absolute need for quantification of the staining result; not only is it positive, but how much is there? In this presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Biological Stain Commission in June, 2005, I advocate a total test approach that requires systematic attention to pre-analytic, analytic, and post-analytic issues. The approach encompasses all aspects of test performance from specimen acquisition, through fixation, antigen retrieval, processing, staining, interpretation, and reporting of results. A similar systematic approach also may be adopted for in situ hybridization methods, which have performance requirements that in many ways parallel immunohistochemistry.

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