Fixation strategies for retinal immunohistochemistry

Tyler W. Stradleigh, Andrew Ishida

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Immunohistochemical and exvivo anatomical studies have provided many glimpses of the variety, distribution, and signaling components of vertebrate retinal neurons. The beauty of numerous images published to date, and the qualitative and quantitative information they provide, indicate that these approaches are fundamentally useful. However, obtaining these images entailed tissue handling and exposure to chemical solutions that differ from normal extracellular fluid in composition, temperature, and osmolarity. Because the differences are large enough to alter intercellular and intracellular signaling in neurons, and because retinae are susceptible to crush, shear, and fray, it is natural to wonder if immunohistochemical and anatomical methods disturb or damage the cells they are designed to examine. Tissue fixation is typically incorporated to guard against this damage and is therefore critically important to the quality and significance of the harvested data. Here, we describe mechanisms of fixation; advantages and disadvantages of using formaldehyde and glutaraldehyde as fixatives during immunohistochemistry; and modifications of widely used protocols that have recently been found to improve cell shape preservation and immunostaining patterns, especially in proximal retinal neurons.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)181-202
Number of pages22
JournalProgress in Retinal and Eye Research
StatePublished - Sep 1 2015


  • Antigen retrieval
  • Fixatives
  • Formaldehyde
  • Glutaraldehyde
  • PH
  • Quenching
  • Retina
  • Sucrose

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sensory Systems
  • Ophthalmology


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