[Histonet] fixing immuno and antibody tissues

From:"George Cole"

Dear Histotechs;
Placate an old retiree and get a quizzical question out of my head:  In
1974, I was assigned muscle and nerve biopsy work and immunofluorescence
work on kidneys. Fixation ruined just about everything in all the
procedures involved with those studies, so fixatives were OUT in all of
my work. After moving to another hospital with my pathologist, I
continued the muscle and nerve work but not the immunos. Over the years,
news sort of trickled down that you histotechs were doing antibody work
on fixed tissues.  I guessed you had found some way to repair the
tissues after being fixed.  The Histonet has many messages sent back and
forth between histotechs doing antibody work, and they always specified
what fixative they used.  A nd that always bothered me.  It seemed like
a ring-around-the-rosie to fix,  then,  Unfix tissues for antibody work.
To up and fix the tissues, then turn around and repair SOME of the
damage done to the tissues-because I thought the tissues would not come
away unscathed from being bombarded  with a fixative. And if it was
necessary to return the fixed tissues to an unfixed-like state, why not
just leave them unfixed in the first place?  Does fixation do something
good to the tissues, making them better for antibody studies than fresh
frozen tissues? Muscle tissues are totally ruined for histochemistry,
and there is no way to repair the harm done to them by fixation. It
seemed like something out The Peterkin Papers:  One story from that
wonderful book involved a cup of tea that had too much sugar in it.The
lady who wanted to drink it went up and down the lane gettjng advice as
to what to do, involved every herb, spice and remedy which just kept
making the tea worse. But the little old lady at the end of the lane
suggested that she make a fresh cup of tea. I wonder if the little old
lady at the end of the lane had been consulted in this vase, she might
have laughed merrily and suggested you just not fix your tissues in the
first place. Is there is some improvement in the tissues brought about
by fixation?  As fixation totally ruined all my work, I find it hard to
believe that the tissues are going to come out unscathed from fixation.
Anyway, this has been a mystery working in the back of my head for years
.Can you put this matter to rest for this 76 year old?
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