The immunohistochemistry laboratory: looking at molecules and preparing for tomorrow

Arch Pathol Lab Med. 2010 Nov;134(11):1659-65. doi: 10.5858/2009-0582-RAR1.1.


Context: Surgical and subspecialty pathologists rely heavily on the patient's clinical context, imaging studies, morphology, and on ancillary studies such as immunohistochemistry (IHC), cytogenetics, and molecular diagnostics in arriving at accurate, contemporary diagnoses. Lymphoma/leukemia classification has led the way in the number of antibodies used in IHC algorithmic diagnostic approaches to distinguish more than 40 diseases. As the era of genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, and targeted pathway therapeutics unfolds-and as infusion of federal funds to programs such as Accelerating Clinical Trials of Novel Oncologic PathWays (ACTNOW) requires that correlative biomarker assays be performed in Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA)-certified IHC laboratories-we face changes and challenges for the future.

Objective: To discuss the laboratory, pertinent daily diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic uses of IHC, and future directions and challenges.

Data sources: Recent literature review and ongoing current activities in our laboratory and institution.

Conclusions: Meticulous attention at the microscope by expert subspecialty pathologists using ancillary methods is important in making correct diagnoses. Awareness of the literature and interactions with our research colleagues, including clinical, basic, and translational scientists, continue to expand our insights into and understanding of complex diseases; this will ultimately provide prognostic information to assist in appropriate clinical management of our patients and development of new targeted or combination therapies. Multimodality correlations will continue, with morphology, imaging data, immunophenotyping, and genetics as well as steadily increasing integration of pathway signaling, genome, sequenome, transcriptome, and proteome data used in clinical settings.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Genomics
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / trends*
  • Laboratories*
  • Pathology, Molecular*
  • Proteomics