Immunohistochemistry (IHC) history

The principle of IHC has existed since the 1930s, but it was not until 1941 that the first IHC study was reported. Coons and his coworkers used Fluorescein isothiocyanate (FITC)-labeled antibodies to localize Pneumococcal antigens in infected tissues. Since then, with improvement and development of protein conjugation, enzyme labels have been introduced, such as peroxidase and alkaline phosphatase. Colloidal gold label has also been discovered and used to identify immunohistochemical reactions at both light and electron microscopy levels. Other labels include radioactive elements, and the immunoreaction can be visualized by autoradiography. All of these make immunohistochemistry a routine and essential tool in diagnostic and research laboratories.


  • 1. Coons AH, Creech HJ, Jones RN. Immunological properties of an antibody containing a fluorescent group. Proc Soc Exp Biol. 1941;47:200–2.
  • 2. Coons AH, Kalpan MH. Localization antigens in tissue cells. Improvements in a method for the detection of antigen by means of fluorescent antibody. J Exp Med. 1950;91:1–13.
  • 3. Nakane PK, Pierce GB. Enzyme labeled anti-bodies: Preparation and application for the localization of antigens. J Histochem Cytochem. 1966;14:929–31.
  • 4. Mason DY, Sammons R. alkaline phosphatase and peroxidase for double immunoenzymatic labeling of cellular constituents. J Clin Pathol. 1978;31:454–60.
  • 5. Faulk WP, Taylor GM. An immunocolloid method for the electron microscope. Immunochemistry. 1971;8:1081–83.