Radioimmunocytochemistry with [3H]Biotin

S. P. Hunt, P. W. Mantyh

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22 Scopus citations


The methods presented in this paper grew out of the current need for a more quantitative approach to immunocytochemistry. The problem was approached by exploiting the high affinity of biotin for avidin in the design of radioimmunocytochemical methods using [3H]biotin. [3H]Biotin and avidin D form a radioactive complex which can be linked onto a primary antibody by means of a biotinylated anti-rabbit IgG or biotinylated protein A link. With both approaches it was possible to localize a number of antigens such as somatostatin, substance P, avian pancreatic polypeptide, tyrosine hydroxylase, and enkephalin-like immunoreactivity in various regions of the rat and human brain. By using tritium-sensitive film, large regions of the brain could be studied and analyzed semiquantitatively using computerized microdensitometry. The technique was also taken to the electron microscopic level, and in the case of substance P immunoreactivity within the rat substantia nigra silver grains were found to be highly localized over axons and axon terminals. It was also possible to demonstrate co-existence or lack of co-existence of a number of different antigens within neurones. The first primary antibody was localized with biotinylated protein A followed by avidin-peroxidase, while the second primary antibody was linked to the [3H]biotin again with biotinylated protein A. As an example of the potential of these methods for semiquantification, the distribution of substance P within postmortem human spinal cord was examined 24 months after amputation. A 49% loss of peptide was found in the corresponding dorsal horn. In summary these methods using [3H]biotin have proved successful in quantification, electron microscopy and double labelling studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)203-217
Number of pages15
JournalBrain Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 23 1984


  • [H]biotin
  • antigen co-existence
  • radioimmunocytochemistry
  • semiquantification

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


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