Immunohistochemistry is used to demonstrate specific cell and tissue components based on immunological properties either for diagnostic or for therapeutic purposes. Immunologic research on histologic material (tissues) is called immunohistochemistry, performed on cytologic material (individual cells) it is called immunocytochemistry. This is additional research. It is performed when a routine procedure provides a pathologist with insufficient clues for a certain diagnosis.
Immunological tests can demonstrate the presence of specific tumors. For this purpose monoclonal antibodies are used. Antibodies are proteins made by mammals to protect them from and destroy foreign elements, e.g. bacteria, viruses etc. Antibodies bind to a specific target protein called antigen. A tumor can be characterized by the presence of specific proteins. Using these tests, the development of a tumor or its dissemination can be determined. Antibodies also help to determine the aggressiveness of a tumor and whether or not anti-hormonal therapy will help in treating the patient. The binding of these antibodies to antigens can be visualized and examined by a pathologist under the microscope. Based on these observations, the doctor treating the patient can decide whether further investigations or treatment are needed. Immunohistochemistry and immunocytochemistry are both capable of showing specific tumors as well as specific tumor properties (e.g. hormone receptors). This is of vital importance in order to determine the right treatment.
- In situ hybridization
- Fluorescence in situ hybridization
- Flow cytometry