Biotin amplification of biotin and horseradish peroxidase signals in histochemical stains

J Histochem Cytochem. 1992 Oct;40(10):1457-63. doi: 10.1177/40.10.1527370.


A procedure is described for intensifying histochemical reactions by amplification of biotinylated sites. This is achieved by deposition of biotinylated tyramine on the tissue through the enzymatic action of horseradish peroxidase (HRP). The amplified biotin sites are subsequently visualized by binding them to avidin, to which a marker is attached. This amplification greatly increases the sensitivity of staining procedures that employ HRP (and/or biotin) in tissue. For neuroanatomical pathway tracing methods, the procedure greatly increases the detectability of the injected tracer. For lectin histochemistry and immunohistochemistry, the amplification requires that the lectin or primary antibody be greatly diluted. This dilution results in less background staining and yet strong signals are produced even when very dilute reagents are used. Alternatively, the amplification permits much shorter incubations in primary antibodies when dilutions are used that would ordinarily be used with conventional bridge techniques. The procedure is also useful for amplifying very weak signals, such as those of immunoreactions in glutaraldehyde-fixed tissue. The amplification procedure, together with the availability of avidin probes labeled with fluorochromes, colloidal gold, or enzyme systems other than HRP, provides a means of greatly increasing the versatility of a variety of histochemical reactions, including those for detecting in situ hybridization probes, in addition to increasing the sensitivity of the reactions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotin / metabolism*
  • Horseradish Peroxidase / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Lectins / metabolism
  • Neurons / metabolism
  • Nucleic Acid Hybridization


  • Lectins
  • Biotin
  • Horseradish Peroxidase