Spinal cord from body donors is suitable for multicolor immunofluorescence

Lukas F Reissig, Genova Carrero-Rojas, Udo Maierhofer, Atieh Seyedian Moghaddam, Andreas Hainfellner, Bernhard Gesslbauer, Thomas Haider, Johannes Streicher, Oskar C Aszmann, Angel M Pastor, Wolfgang J Weninger, Roland Blumer

Research output: Journal article (peer-reviewed)Journal article

2 Citations (Scopus)


Immunohistochemistry is a powerful tool for studying neuronal tissue from humans at the molecular level. Obtaining fresh neuronal tissue from human organ donors is difficult and sometimes impossible. In anatomical body donations, neuronal tissue is dedicated to research purposes and because of its easier availability, it may be an alternative source for research. In this study, we harvested spinal cord from a single organ donor 2 h (h) postmortem and spinal cord from body donors 24, 48, and 72 h postmortem and tested how long after death, valid multi-color immunofluorescence or horseradish peroxidase (HRP) immunohistochemistry is possible. We used general and specific neuronal markers and glial markers for immunolabeling experiments. Here we showed that it is possible to visualize molecularly different neuronal elements with high precision in the body donor spinal cord 24 h postmortem and the quality of the image data was comparable to those from the fresh organ donor spinal cord. High-contrast multicolor images of the 24-h spinal cords allowed accurate automated quantification of different neuronal elements in the same sample. Although there was antibody-specific signal reduction over postmortem intervals, the signal quality for most antibodies was acceptable at 48 h but no longer at 72 h postmortem. In conclusion, our study has defined a postmortem time window of more than 24 h during which valid immunohistochemical information can be obtained from the body donor spinal cord. Due to the easier availability, neuronal tissue from body donors is an alternative source for basic and clinical research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-45
Number of pages23
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number1
Early online date06 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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