Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is the process whereby antibodies are used to detect proteins (antigens) in cells within a tissue section (for instance liver, pancreas or the heart).
When a tissue sample is passed to a lab to be examined for disease, there are several details that cannot be determined easily. Several diseases or disease sub-types may look alike or appear to have similar size cells under a microscope but have different behaviors and necessary treatments. The best way to differentiate them is to detect specific molecules on these cells that act as markers.
Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is a technique that uses antibodies (matching molecules) that can seek out, identify and attach themselves to these markers on cells. The antibodies themselves can be seen under the microscope, which helps the technician make a precise identification.
Immunohistochemistry (IHC) has found numerous applications in medicine, especially in cancer diagnosis. Lymphomas are among the cancers most dependent on IHC for correct diagnosis and treatment decisions.