A new double labeling technique for combined in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analysis

Lab Invest. 1994 Dec;71(6):911-7.


Background: A reliable, sensitive, and specific double labeling technique is required that allows the simultaneous visualization of in situ hybridization products and antigens. Currently used double labeling techniques are limited by various problems including the numerous disadvantages associated with radioactive labels, the time-dependent loss of fluorescence signals, and the high background that is associated with various peroxidase techniques. Therefore, the aim of this study was to develop an improved double labeling technique.

Experimental design: Riboprobes were used for detection of mRNA of cathepsin D, vascular cell adhesion molecule, and endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule in in situ hybridization and monoclonal antibodies specific for macrophages and basement membranes (collagen type IV) for immunohistochemical analysis. The in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analysis were used to characterize cathepsin D messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA) in macrophages expressing cells and the expression of adhesion molecule mRNA in endothelial cells delineated by the vascular basement membrane expressing collagen type IV.

Results: The application of in situ hybridization detection systems before immunohistochemical analysis was shown to give reliable results. In situ hybridization with digoxigenin labeled riboprobes using alkaline phosphatase linked Fab fragments visualized by 4-nitro blue tetrazolim chloride/5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indolphosphate combined with immunohistochemical detection of the antigen by the alkaline phosphatase anti-alkaline phosphatase-technique with new fuchsin as substrate is a reliable double labeling technique. Using this protocol, we could show that the reaction product is stable, there is virtually no background, and both reaction products can be easily distinguished. Vascular cell adhesion molecule-1 mRNA is expressed only in endothelial cells and certain fibroblast-like cells that do not label with antibodies against macrophages, whereas cathepsin D mRNA is coexpressed with macrophages. We also demonstrated that endothelial leukocyte adhesion molecule-1 mRNA is strongly expressed in endothelial cells that can be localized within the boundaries of the vascular basement membrane.

Conclusions: A new and reliable double labeling technique for the simultaneous evaluation of in situ hybridization and immunohistochemical analysis is described that is suitable for various applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis, Rheumatoid / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry / methods*
  • In Situ Hybridization / methods*
  • Indoles
  • Nitroblue Tetrazolium
  • Rosaniline Dyes


  • Indoles
  • Rosaniline Dyes
  • Nitroblue Tetrazolium
  • new fuchsin
  • 5-bromo-4-chloro-3-indoxyl phosphate