Beyond hematoxylin and eosin - The role of immunohistochemistry in surgical pathology

Shabnam Jaffer, Ira J. Bleiweiss

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


Immunohistochemistry, a technique that microscopically detects cellular constituents via specific antibodies, has revolutionized the field of surgical pathology by tremendously empowering the hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) slide. In the investigation of the unknown primary, it enables detecting the origin of the tumor by use of tissue- or organ-specific antibodies as well as antibodies associated with minimal histogenetic differentiation. It has almost perfected the pathologist's ability to make specific diagnoses such as those of mesothelioma, melanoma, and neuroendocrine tumors. These diagnoses should be reached by interpreting the immunohistochemical results in the context of a detailed morphological analysis and differential diagnosis based on the H&E. Other important uses include detection of microinvasive and micrometastatic disease. Through the use of prognostic markers, immunohistochemistry can provide valuable information regarding tumor behavior and therapy. Lastly, immunohistochemistry serves a small but valuable role in highlighting microorganisms, particularly viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)445-465
Number of pages21
JournalCancer Investigation
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2004


  • Antibodies
  • Antibody-antigen reaction
  • Hematoxylin and eosin slide
  • Histogenetic differentiation
  • Immunohistochemistry


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