Effect of decalcification agents on immunoreactivity of cellular antigens

Author(s): Athanasou NA, Quinn J, Heryet A, Woods CG, McGee O'J


The effects of several strong acids, weak acids, a proprietary decalcifier, and edetic acid on the immunohistochemical staining of cryostat and fixed paraffin embedded sections of tissue from a variety of normal and pathological calcified and uncalcified specimens were studied. Even decalcification in strong acids (HCl, HN03, 5% trichloracetic acid, HCl-edetic acid did not diminish the reactivity of many useful antigens (including leucocyte common antigen, intermediate filaments, S100 protein and epithelial membrane antigen). Weaker acids (formic acid, acetic acid) and edetic acid decalcified more slowly and generally showed greater preservation of antigenic reactivity with better morphology and staining quality. Trichloracetic acid was also useful as a quick one step fixation and decalcifying agent for both cryostat and routinely processed sections. Knowledge of the preservation of antigenic reactivity in decalcified tissue will be useful in the diagnosis of tumours of uncertain histogenesis and origin which affect calcified tissues.

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