Selective cytochemical localization of peroxidase, cytochrome oxidase and catalase in rat liver with 3,3'-diaminobenzidine

Histochemistry. 1981;71(1):33-44. doi: 10.1007/BF00592568.


In rat liver, three different enzymes with peroxidatic activity are demonstrated with modifications of the DAB-technique: peroxidase in the endoplasmic reticulum of Kupffer cells, catalase in peroxisomes and cytochrome oxidase in mitochondria. The major problem of the DAB-methods is their limited specificity so that often in tissues incubated for one enzyme the other two proteins are also stained simultaneously. We have studied the conditions for selective staining of each of these three enzymes in rat liver fixed either by perfusion with glutaraldehyde or by immersion in a modified Karnovsky's glutaraldehyde-formaldehyde fixative. The observations indicate that in perfusion fixed material selective staining can be obtained by reduction of the incubation time (5 min) and the use of optimal conditions for each enzyme. In livers fixed by immersion the distribution of the staining is patchy and irregular and usually longer incubation times (15-30 min) are required. Selective staining of peroxidase in Kupffer cells was obtained by brief incubation at room temperature in a medium containing 2.5 mM DAB in cacodylte buffer pH 6.5 and 0.02% H2O2. The exclusive staining for cytochrome oxidase in cristae of mitochondria was achieved after short incubation in 2.5 mM DAB in phosphate buffer pH 7.2 containing 0.05% cytochrome c. For selective demonstration of catalase in peroxisomes the tissue was incubated in 5 mM DAB in Teorell-Stenhagen (or glycine-NaOH) buffer at pH 10.5 and 0.15% H2O2. The prolongation of the incubation time in peroxidase medium caused marked staining of both mitochondria and peroxisomes. In the cytochrome oxidase medium longer incubations led to slight staining of peroxisomes. The catalase medium was quite selective for this enzyme so that even after incubation for 120 min only peroxisomes stained.

MeSH terms

  • 3,3'-Diaminobenzidine
  • Animals
  • Catalase / analysis*
  • Electron Transport Complex IV / analysis*
  • Histocytochemistry
  • Kupffer Cells / enzymology
  • Liver / enzymology*
  • Liver / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Organoids / enzymology
  • Peroxidases / analysis*
  • Rats


  • 3,3'-Diaminobenzidine
  • Peroxidases
  • Catalase
  • Electron Transport Complex IV