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Immunohistochemistry/Tissue Section Staining


Preparing Tissue Sections for Immunostaining Manually


  1. Fix the tissue in 10% formalin for less than 24 hours.
  2. Paraffin embed the fixed tissue.
  3. Mount tissue sections on slides.
  4. Clear the paraffin with xylene for ten minutes; move slides to a fresh dish of xylene for an additional ten minutes.
    NOTE: Perform all xylene washes in a fume hood!
  5. Rinse the slides twice for 2 minutes in 100% alcohols (18:1:1 100% ethanol:100% methanol:100% isopropanol).
  6. Rinse the slides twice for 2 minutes in a 95% solution of the 100% alcohols.
  7. Place slides in an 80% solution of the 100% alcohols for 2 minutes, followed by deionized water for 5 minutes.
  8. Rinse slides several times with fresh deionized water followed by another five minute wash using fresh water.


Antigen Retrieval Method


Please see our protocol "Preparation and Staining of Paraffin Sections" for a detailed method on antigen retrieval.


Alternative Method: SDS Antigen Retrieval Method


  1. Place slides face-up in incubation tray and cover each section with 1% SDS in TBS (100 mM Tris pH 7.4, 138 mM NaCl, 27 mM KCl).
  2. Incubate for five minutes at room temperature, followed by three five minute washes with TBS.




  1. Immerse slides in a dish containing blocking buffer (serum from host species of secondary antibody to be used, diluted 1:10 in TBS).
  2. Incubate at 37°C for one hour.


Incubation with Primary Antibodies


  1. Cover the tissue sections with primary antibody diluted in blocking buffer. An initial antibody concentration of 1.0-10 µg/ml is recommended.
  2. Incubate for 2 hours at 37°C.
  3. Blot excess liquid from slides and rinse three times in TBS for five minutes each wash.


Incubation with Secondary Antibodies


  1. Cover the tissue sections with secondary antibody diluted in blocking buffer according to manufacturer's instructions. An affinity purified donkey anti-mouse IgG conjugated to Cy5 (Jackson ImmunoResearch Laboratories) can be used.
  2. Incubate at 37°C for one hour.
  3. Blot excess liquid and rinse twice in TBS for five minutes each wash.


Counterstaining and Visualization


Nuclear Staining


  1. Immerse slides for 1-2 minutes in a solution of ethidium bromide diluted to 0.5-1.0 µg/ml in TBS.
  2. Rinse several times in deionized water. Blot excess water around tissue, then apply one drop of water soluble mounting media to tissue and place coverslip over slide. Seal with nail polish.
  3. Detect signal on a fluorescence microscope.


Alternate Method for Light Microscopy Visualization


Use an Anti-Ig HRP Detection kit for the detection of primary antibody. We have three kits available, anti-Mouse Ig HRP (cat. no. 551011), anti-Rat Ig HRP (cat. no. 551013), and anti-Hamster HRP (551012). These kits contain DAB substrate/chromogen solution that allows for visualization of antibody staining by light microscopy. Please see the kit instructions for detailed protocols.



Brown, D., et al. 1996 Histochem Cell Biol 105 :261-267

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