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Interpretation and Quantification of Immunostains

Seidal, Tomas M.D., Ph.D.; Balaton, Andre J. M.D.; Battifora, Hector M.D.

The American Journal of Surgical Pathology: September 2001 - Volume 25 - Issue 9 - p 1204-1207
Original Articles

Despite the fact that immunohistochemistry is widely used in routine diagnostic work and is a very common part of scientific reports in pathology and cytology, its standardization still lags behind. Interpretation of immunostains should be based on microanatomic distribution of the staining, proportion of positively stained cells, staining intensity, if relevant, and cutoff levels. These parameters should be shown to be reasonably reproducible and should be clearly defined in publications. Uniformity in the setting of thresholds could probably benefit from interlaboratory control materials containing defined amounts of the target antigen. Reliable and precise quantitative immunohistochemistry requires the use of control materials containing defined amounts of the target antigen and processed alongside the specimen combined with automated computer-assisted microspectrophotometry. Application of these suggestions is hoped to improve standardization and to facilitate communication in the field of immunohistochemistry.

From the Department of Pathology, Central Hospital, Karlstad, Sweden (T.S.); Center de Pathologie, Bievres, France (A.J.B.); and Pacific Coast Reference Laboratories, Cypress, California, U.S.A. (H.B.).

On behalf of ICGSQI (International Consensus Group on Standardization and Quality Control in Immunohistochemistry). The other members of the group are, in alphabetic order, Andreas Chott, Alfredo Fabbiani, Allen Gown, Jacques Hassoun, Tibor Krenacs, Keith Miller, Kyoshi Mukai, Marius Nap, Jose Ramon Rivera, and Martin Werner.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Tomas Seidal, MD, PhD, Department of Pathology, Central Hospital, S-651 85 Karlstad, Sweden; e-mail:

© 2001 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.