Immunohistochemistry in the evaluation of neovascularization in tumor xenografts

Biotech Histochem. 2008 Jun;83(3-4):179-89. doi: 10.1080/10520290802451085.


Angiogenesis, or neovascularization, is known to play an important role in the neoplastic progression leading to metastasis. CD31 or Factor VIII-related antigen (F VIII RAg) immunohistochemistry is widely used in experimental studies for quantifying tumor neovascularization in immunocompromised animal models implanted with transformed human cell lines. Quantification, however, can be affected by variations in the methodology used to measure vascularization including antibody selection, antigen retrieval (AR) pretreatment, and evaluation techniques. To examine this further, we investigated the microvessel density (MVD) and the intensity of microvascular staining among five different human tumor xenografts and a mouse syngeneic tumor using anti-CD31 and F VIII RAg immunohistochemical staining. Different AR methods also were evaluated. Maximal retrieval of CD31 was achieved using 0.5 M Tris (pH 10) buffer, while maximum retrieval of F VIII RAg was achieved using 0.05% pepsin treatment of tissue sections. For each optimized retrieval condition, anti-CD31 highlighted small vessels better than F VIII RAg. Furthermore, the MVD of CD31 was significantly greater than that of F VIII RAg decorated vessels (p<0.001). The choice of antibody and AR method has a significant affect on immunohistochemical findings when studying angiogenesis. One also must use caution when comparing studies in the literature that use different techniques and reagents.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Factor VIII / chemistry
  • Factor VIII / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • Microvessels / chemistry
  • Microvessels / pathology
  • Neoplasms / blood supply*
  • Neoplasms / pathology*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / immunology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / metabolism*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / chemistry
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1 / immunology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous*


  • Antibodies
  • Platelet Endothelial Cell Adhesion Molecule-1
  • Factor VIII