We have found that microwave (MW) stabilization greatly improves detection of the estrogen receptor (ER) in frozen sections of rhesus monkey oviduct by immunocytochemistry (ICC). Fresh samples of fimbriae were MW-irradiated, frozen, and then cryosectioned. The frozen sections were also MW-treated and then fixed in a paraformaldehyde-based fixative before ICC processing. A parallel set of samples from each monkey were frozen, sectioned and processed for ICC without any MW treatment. MW stabilization clearly increased immunostaining intensity with either of two ER-specific monoclonal antibodies, namely, H222 and 1D5. The greatest increase was noted in tissues collected from spayed or progesterone-treated animals. An antibody dilution series indicated that MW stabilization increased the sensitivity approximately 20- to 40-fold. In addition, we incubated spayed macaque fimbriae at 4 C in the presence of 10 nM [3H]Moxestrol and then either froze the tissues immediately (non-MW) or treated them with MW. Slide-mounted cryosections of non-MW and MW-treated tissue were then incubated with either a Tris-EDTA buffer (low salt) or the same buffer containing 4 M KCl (high salt). The quantity of [3H]Moxestrol-occupied ER extracted from the frozen sections by each buffer was determined by a sucrose gradient shift assay. The low salt buffer extracted significantly more radiolabeled ER from non-MW sections than from MW-treated sections (P < 0.01), whereas the high salt buffer extracted equal amounts of ER from both the MW-treated and non-MW sections. MW-irradiation enhanced ICC detectability of ER in frozen sections by greatly reducing the amount of ER extracted during the various washes used during normal ICC processing.
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