Evaluation of antigen retrieval buffer systems

J Mol Histol. 2004 May;35(4):409-16. doi: 10.1023/b:hijo.0000039854.17808.e0.


The introduction of antigen retrieval (AR) techniques has dramatically improved the sensitivity of immunohistochemical detection of various antigens in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues. The microwave-heating and pressure-cooking procedures are the most effective AR methods reported to date. Although extensive efforts have been made to optimize AR procedures using these two methods, previous studies have not led to a standard protocol applicable to all antibodies derived from different clones. In this study we have investigated the optimal AR buffer conditions for 29 antibodies that are in common use for diagnostic purposes in hospitals worldwide. Borate (pH 8.0) and Tris buffer (pH 9.5) yielded the highest retrieved antigen immunoreactivity against most antibodies as compared to other buffers tested. In addition, the microwave pressure-cooking gave better results than microwave-heating alone. Therefore, borate (pH 8.0) or Tris (pH 9.5) buffer used in conjunction with the pressure-cooking procedure is strongly recommended for standard routine use.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Buffers*
  • Evaluation Studies as Topic
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Lymph Nodes / chemistry*
  • Paraffin Embedding
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*
  • Tissue Fixation


  • Buffers