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Toxicol Pathol. 2010 Jan;38(1):131-41. doi: 10.1177/0192623309356449. Epub 2009 Dec 22.

Useful immunohistochemical markers of tumor differentiation.

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Integrated Laboratory Systems, Inc., Research Triangle Park, NC 27709, USA.


Immunohistochemistry (IHC) has been somewhat underutilized in the practice of toxicological pathology but can be a valuable tool for the evaluation of rodent neoplasms, both in a diagnostic and an investigational role. Determining an exact tumor type using standard hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining of formalin-fixed tissues can be challenging, especially with metastatic and/or poorly differentiated tumors. Successful IHC is dependent on many factors, including species and tissue type, type and duration of fixation, quality fresh or frozen sectioning, and antibody specificity. The initial approach of most tumor diagnosis IHC applications is distinguishing epithelial from mesenchymal differentiation using vimentin and cytokeratin markers, although false-negative and/or false-positive results may occur. Experimentally, IHC can be employed to investigate the earliest changes in transformed tissues, identifying cellular changes not normally visible with H&E. Individual markers for proliferation, apoptosis, and specific tumor proteins can be used to help distinguish hyperplasia from neoplasia and determine specific tumor origin/type. IHC provides a relatively rapid and simple method to better determine the origin of neoplastic tissue or investigate the behavior or progression of a given neoplasm. Several experimental and diagnostic examples will be presented to illustrate the utility of IHC as a supplement to standard staining techniques.

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