Improvement in soluble dehydrogenase histochemistry by nitroblue tetrazolium preuptake in sections: A qualitative and quantitative study

Pasquale Chieco, Paola Normanni, Paul J. Boor

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6 Scopus citations


An improvement in the histochemical demonstration of soluble dehydrogenase enzymes has been obtained by preincubating frozen sections in a nitroblue tetrazolium (NBT)/ acetone solution, followed by routine incubation in polyvinyl alcohol (PVA) enriched media. Tissue binding properties of NBT were shown clearly to be decreased in histochemical media containing the colloid PVA for soluble enzymes, thus causing loss of the final reaction product (formazan) from the sections. The preincubation step in NBT/acetone allows tetrazolium salt to bind firmly to tissue lipoprotein (substantivity) and diminishes the loss of reduced formazan from heavily reacting tissue sections. The time course of NBT substantivity was examined and it was found that NBT binds rapidly to tissues (liver, kidney, heart) during preincubation, so that a preincubation of 30-60 seconds at room temperature is sufficient to improve the final morphological results greatly. Microspectrophotometric measurements of matched controls and NBT/acetone preincubated sections show that the preincubation step may slightly decrease lactate dehydrogenase (LDH) and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PDH) activities. This decrease was probably due to increased binding efficiency of formazan to cell lipoproteins but was judged, however, to be irrelevant compared to the morphological advantages produced by the NBT/acetone preincubation procedure.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-211
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnic and Histochemistry
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1984


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology

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