AIMS: To extend the alkaline phosphatase-antialkaline phosphatase (APAAP) immunoenzyme single stain method to a more generally applicable double stain technique. This will allow two primary antibodies of the same isotype of IgG and specifically the nuclear antigen bromodeoxyuridine (BRdU) to be evaluated with a cell surface antigen identifier. METHOD: Sequential applications of the APAAP method showed two antigen sites by different dye couplings to a common alkaline phosphatase substrate, producing blue and red reaction products on the same slide. Antigens on different cell populations as well as those in different compartments of the same cell were analysed. The method allowed a surface antigen monoclonal to be revealed first, using an optimal fixative, before alcohol/gluteraldehyde fixation was used to start the second (BRdU) staining sequence. RESULTS: An analysis of double staining of T lymphocyte subsets (CD4 and CD8) showed no significant difference in the order of application of the primaries (n = 10) and no significant difference from their corresponding single stain results (n = 50), confirming the validity of the technique where antigens are exclusively distributed. Other examples, including antigens distributed in different compartments of the same cell, displayed discrete staining which implied validity. CONCLUSION: Double staining by APAAP with this technique seems to be applicable to those cases where antigens are exclusively distributed and includes cases where different compartments of the same cell are stained. It is especially useful in revealing antigens that require different fixation and preparation--that is DNA incorporated BRdU with a surface antigen. But it does seem to have a limited ability to produce a dual colour at a common site.
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