The concept that antigens can be masked by the chemical processes involved in formalin fixation and paraffin processing and that some kind of unmasking procedure is required for optimal immunostaining dates far back into the history of immunocytochemistry (Brandtzaeg 1982). Although the term antigen retrieval is commonly used, it is somewhat misleading. Antigen retrieval implies that tissue antigens, once lost from histological preparations, can somehow be miraculously recovered. Antigens can be lost from tissue sections, in which case they are lost irretrievably, or they can be depleted, altered, or masked by the processes involved in tissue fixation, processing, and embedding. A better description of the methods required to reveal hidden epitopes is antigen unmasking.


Proliferate Cell Nuclear Antigen Antigen Retrieval Formalin Fixation Pressure Cooker Microwave Antigen Retrieval 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Jackson
  • David Blythe

There are no affiliations available

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