Albumin in immunohistochemistry: Foe and friend

Appl Immunohistochem Mol Morphol. 2006 Dec;14(4):441-4. doi: 10.1097/01.pai.0000203040.79156.70.


Immunohistochemical procedures constitute a high methodological value in both pathologic diagnostics and research. Staining quality depends on a large variety of interference factors. Primarily, background staining reduces the quality of evaluation by reducing the chromatic discrimination. For the identification of important interference factors, various incubation steps and composition of solutions recommended in routine protocols were altered or omitted in our study. Surprisingly, the most important effect concerning background staining reduction could be significantly attributed to the omission of albumin which usually is recommended as a reducer of background stainings. However, in contrast to this negative effect, albumin could also increase specific staining intensity. These findings lead to the recommendation of a careful use of albumin in immunohistochemistry because of the dichotomous effects mentioned above. Furthermore, these results imply that in case of a good specific staining pattern, the use of albumin in immunohistochemical solutions merely exerts significant negative background staining effects.

MeSH terms

  • Central Nervous System / metabolism
  • Ectoderm / metabolism
  • Endoderm / metabolism
  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine / chemistry*
  • Staining and Labeling


  • Glial Fibrillary Acidic Protein
  • Serum Albumin, Bovine