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Improvement of Opal Multiplex Immunofluorescence Workflow for Human Tissue Sections

Authors: Willemsen, Marcella; Krebbers, Gabrielle; Bekkenk, Marcel W.; Teunissen, Marcel B.M.; Luiten, Rosalie M.

Online: https://doi.org/10.1369/00221554211007793

Issue: J Histochem Cytochem . 2021 May;69(5):339-346.


The Opal multiplex technique is an established methodology for the detection of multiple biomarkers in one section. The protocol encompasses iterative single stainings and heating-mediated removal of the primary and secondary antibodies after each staining round, leaving untouched the Opal fluorophores which are deposited onto the antigen of interest. According to our experience, repetitive heating of skin sections often results in tissue damage, indicating an urgent need for milder alternatives to strip immunoglobulins. In this study, we demonstrate that considerable heating-related damage was found not only in skin but also in tissues of different origin, mostly characterized by low cell density. Importantly, the morphology remained fully intact when sections were repetitively exposed to β-mercaptoethanol-containing stripping buffer instead of multiple heating cycles. However, target epitopes appeared sensitive at a differential degree to multiple treatments with stripping buffer, as shown by loss in staining intensity, but in all cases, the staining intensity could be restored by increment of the primary antibody concentrations. Application of β-mercaptoethanol-containing stripping buffer instead of heating for antibody removal markedly improved the quality of the Opal multiplex technique, as a substantial higher number of differently colored cells could be visualized within a well-conserved morphological context: