Application of antigen retrieval by heating for double-label fluorescent immunohistochemistry with identical species-derived primary antibodies

J Histochem Cytochem. 2004 Sep;52(9):1209-17. doi: 10.1369/jhc.3A6205.2004.


Double-label fluorescent immunohistochemistry (IHC) is frequently used to identify cellular and subcellular co-localization of independent antigens. In general, primary antibodies for double labeling should be derived from independent species. However, such convenient pairs of antibodies are not always available. To overcome this problem, several methods for double labeling with primary antibodies from identical species have been proposed. Among them are methods using monovalent secondary antibodies, such as Fab fragments. Soluble immune complexes consisting of primary and monovalent secondary antibodies are first formed. After absorption of the excess secondary antibody with nonspecific immunoglobulin, the immune complexes are applied to sections. By this procedure, unwanted cross-reaction between false pairs of antibodies is avoidable. However, soluble immune complexes often show reduced or no immunoreactivity to antigens on sections. I noted that antigen retrieval (AR) of tissues by heating often but not always showed improved immunoreactivity for soluble immune complexes. Here I demonstrate the examination of conditions for this soluble immune complex method using AR-treated sections and show examples of double-label fluorescent IHC with identical species-derived primary antibodies.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies / immunology*
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex / immunology
  • Antigens / immunology*
  • Fluorescence
  • Fluorescent Antibody Technique / methods*
  • Ganglia, Spinal / cytology
  • Ganglia, Spinal / immunology
  • Heating*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Solubility


  • Antibodies
  • Antigen-Antibody Complex
  • Antigens