We tried to control immunolabeling conditions so that information about antigen concentration could be achieved by quantifying labeling patterns. Working with immunogold labeling procedures in ultrathin cryosections, we observed that differential penetration of immunoreagents causes considerable differences in labeling efficiency between various cell structures. Therefore, in these nonembedded sections, labeling densities can only be used to measure variations in antigen concentration within one cell structure. After embedding the tissue in 30% polyacrylamide (PAA), differences in penetration were negated. The equalizing effect of PAA on the labeling efficiency enabled us to design a simple immunocytochemical method by which concentrations of a protein can be measured in situ at subcellular levels, provided that no variations in he protein's structural conformation occur that would affect its immunoreactivity.
In spite of a higher sensitivity observed for Ig-gold, we preferred to use protein A–gold in our system because of the low nonspecific labeling and the more precise antigen detection by the later immunomarker.