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J Histochem Cytochem. 1988 Dec;36(12):1553-60.

Immunohistochemical demonstration of estrogen receptors (ER) in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded human breast cancer tissue by use of a monoclonal antibody to ER.

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Department of Experimental Clinical Oncology, Radiumstationen, Aarbus Kommunehospital, Denmark.


We describe an immunohistochemical method using a monoclonal antibody to localize estrogen receptors (ER) in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissue. The avidin-biotin-peroxidase complex method was used, preceded by trypsin treatment to expose antigenic sites. In 111 breast cancer specimens studied simultaneously by a dextran-coated charcoal (DCC) assay and the paraffin section method, agreement on receptor status was found in 101 (91%) specimens. Quantitative staining features showed a high degree of correlation with the results of the steroid binding assay (r = 0.81). Studies on the influence of fixation on ER localization done in rabbit uteri showed that fixatives mainly composed of coagulating reagents (Carnoy's, Zenker's, Bouin's, Lilly's AAF, Helly's, ethanol) precluded ER staining, whereas cross-linking fixatives (formaldehyde, glutaraldehyde) preserved antigenic sites, although the immunoreactivity of the receptor was somewhat decreased. Studies on the effect of enzyme preincubation showed this to increase antigenic expression of ER in formaldehyde-fixed breast tumors and in formaldehyde-, glutaraldehyde-, and Zamboni-fixed rabbit uteri.

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