Evaluation of immunohistochemical staining for glucagon in human pancreatic tissue

J Histotechnol. 2016;39(1):8-16. doi: 10.1179/2046023615Y.0000000013. Epub 2016 Mar 17.


Immunohistochemistry (IHC) and immunofluorescence (IF) staining techniques are important diagnostic tools of anatomic pathology in the clinical setting and widely used analytical tools in research laboratories. In diabetes research, they are routinely used for the assessment of beta- and alpha-cell mass, for assessment of endocrine cell distribution within the pancreas, for evaluation of islet composition and islet morphology. Here, we present the evaluation of IHC techniques for the detection of alpha-cells in human pancreatic tissue. We compared the Horse Radish Peroxidase (HRP)-based method utilizing DAB Peroxidase Substrate to the Alkaline Phosphatase (AP)-based method utilizing Vector Red substrate. We conclude that HRP-DAB staining is a robust and reliable method for detection of alpha-cells using either rabbit polyclonal or mouse monoclonal anti-glucagon antibodies. However, AP-Vector Red staining should be used with caution, because it is affected by the dehydration with ethanol and toluene preceding the mounting of slides with Permount mounting medium. When AP-Vector Red is a preferable method for alpha-cell labeling, slides should be mounted using aqueous mounting medium or, alternatively, they could be air-dried before permanent mounting.

Keywords: Diabetes; Glucagon; Human pancreas; Immunofluorescence; Immunohistochemistry.