• immunohistochemistry;
  • antigen retrieval;
  • complications;
  • interpretation

Immunohistochemistry has the potential to be a powerful research tool. However, immunohistochemical studies are frequently undertaken without regard to the complexities and subtleties of these useful techniques. This review aims to address the problems and limitations that are often encountered, and the procedures that should be considered in both the planning and interpretation of immunohistochemical studies. Particular reference is made to the generation of functionally different protein isoforms from a single gene by alternative splicing and post-translational modifications, primary antibody selection, the effects of tissue manipulation such as fixation and antigen retrieval, the need for appropriate controls and interpretation of staining patterns.