Immunohistochemical staining of post-mortem adult human brain sections

Nat Protoc. 2006;1(6):2719-32. doi: 10.1038/nprot.2006.354.


One of the challenges for modern neuroscience is to understand the basis of coordinated neuronal function and networking in the human brain. Some of these questions can be addressed using low- and high-resolution imaging techniques on post-mortem human brain tissue. We have established a versatile protocol for fixation of post-mortem adult human brain tissue, storage of the tissue in a human brain bank, and immunohistochemical analysis in order to understand human brain functions in normal controls and in neuropathological conditions. The brains are fixed by perfusion through the internal carotid and basilar arteries to enhance the penetration of fixative throughout the brain, then blocked, postfixed, cryoprotected, snap-frozen and stored at -80 degrees C. Sections are processed for immunohistochemical single- or double-label staining and conventional-, electron- or confocal laser scanning-microscopy analysis. The results gained using this tissue and protocol are vital for determining the localization of neurochemicals throughout the human brain and to document the changes that occur in neurological diseases.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / anatomy & histology*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Postmortem Changes
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*
  • Tissue Fixation