The effect of antigen retrieval on cells fixed in 10% neutral buffered formalin followed by transfer to 70% ethanol

Academic Article


  • Fixation in 10% neutral buffered formalin prior to transfer to 70% ethanol for one week has been shown to adequately preserve immunorecognition of PCNA, cytokeratins AE1/AE3 and EGFr. This study investigated whether 12 hrs fixation in 10% NBF plus transfer to 70% ethanol for 4 weeks would similarly preserve immunorecognition to an extent where antigen retrieval (AR) used to reverse the masking effects of fixation on some antigens would not be necessary. Two cell lines, DU145 and SKOV3 were grown on coverslips and fixed either for 684 hrs in 10% NBF or for 12 hrs in 10% NBF which was then replaced with 70% ethanol for 672 hrs. The second experiment had the same design except an additional set of cells were subjected to heat-induced AR concomitantly. PCNA, cytokeratins AE1/AE3, and EGFr (membrane and cytoplasmic) were used to evaluate the effects of immunorecognition. Fixation in 10% NBF for 12 hrs plus transfer to 70% ethanol for 672 hrs did not preserve immunorecognition of PCNA adequately in either cell lines. Cytokeratins immunoreactivity was preserved by transfer to 70% ethanol. Cytoplasmic EGFr antigens were not adversely affected by 10% NBF fixation in either cell line and transfer to 70% ethanol had limited effects. With AR, there was little recovery of PCNA immunorecognition on cells fixed in only 10% NBF, but almost complete recovery for cells transferred to 70% ethanol. For cytokeratins there was complete recovery of immunorecognition either with only 10% NBF or 12 hrs plus transfer to 70% ethanol. For EGFr, AR resulted in complete loss of immunorecognition following either treatment. This study indicated that 12 hrs of fixation in 10% NBF plus transfer to 70% ethanol for 4 weeks with AR resulted in recovery of immunorecognition for PCNA and cytokeratins, but standard methods of AR caused loss of immunorecognition of EGFr. © 2013 Otali et al.
  • Published In

  • PLoS ONE  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Otali D; He Q; Grizzle WE
  • Volume

  • 8
  • Issue

  • 12