Hematoxylin and Eosin Counterstaining Protocol for Immunohistochemistry Interpretation and Diagnosis

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Hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining is a well-established technique in histopathology. However, immunohistochemistry (IHC) interpretation is done exclusively with hematoxylin counterstaining. Our goal was to investigate the potential of H&E as counterstaining (H&E-IHC) to allow for visualization of a marker while confirming the diagnosis on the same slide. The quality of immunostaining and the fast-technical performance were the main criteria to select the final protocol. We stained multiple diagnostic tissues with class I IHC tests with different subcellular localization markers (anti-CK7, CK20, synaptophysin, CD20, HMB45, and Ki-67) and with double-staining on prostate tissues with anti-high molecular weight keratins/p63 (DAB detection) and p504s (alkaline phosphatase detection). To validate the efficacy of the counterstaining, we stained tissue microarrays from the Canadian Immunohistochemistry Quality Control (cIQc) with class II IHC tests (ER, PR, HER2, and p53 markers). Interobserver and intraobserver concordance was assessed by κ statistics. Excellent agreement of H&E-IHC interpretation was observed in comparison with standard IHC from our laboratory (κ, 0.87 to 1.00), and with the cIQc reference values (κ, 0.81 to 1.00). Interobserver and intraobserver agreement was excellent (κ, 0.89 to 1.00 and 0.87 to 1.00, respectively). We therefore show for the first time the potential of using H&E counterstaining for IHC interpretation. We recommend the H&E-IHC protocol to enhance diagnostic precision for the clinical workflow and research studies.

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