Improved immunohistochemical detection of phosphorylated mitogen-activated protein kinases in the injured rat optic nerve head

Teresa Mammone, Glyn Chidlow, Robert J. Casson, John P.M. Wood*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The activity of mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs) is largely controlled by addition or removal of phosphate groups, which are carried out by kinase or phosphatase enzymes, respectively. Determining the phosphorylation status of MAPK isoenzymes, therefore, aids elucidation of the physiological and pathological roles of this enzyme. In practical terms, however, end-point procurement of appropriate experimental tissues produces conditions where MAPK phosphorylation status can rapidly alter, thus giving rise to aberrant data. We therefore attempted to instigate a means of stabilising end-point MAPK phosphorylation levels when procuring tissues for analysis. We employed a well-described rat model of ocular hypertension in which MAPK isoenzyme activation occurs in the optic nerve head (ONH), but can vary according to the level of resultant tissue pathology. Animals were appropriately treated and after 3 days were perfused in the presence or absence of a cocktail of phosphatase inhibitors (PIs), immediately prior to tissue fixation, in order to prevent dephosphorylation of phosphorylated MAPKs. Immunohistochemical labelling for phosphorylated MAPKs in untreated ONH sections was unaffected by the presence of PIs in the perfusate. MAPK activation was detected by immunohistochemistry in the treated ONH, but findings varied considerably, particularly in animals with less extensive tissue damage. The presence of PIs in the perfusate, however, significantly reduced this variation and enabled consistent changes to be detected, particularly in the animals with less extensive tissue damage. Thus, the addition of PIs to the perfusate is suggested when studying MAPK activation by immunohistochemistry, especially in the ONH.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)435-456
Number of pages22
JournalHistochemistry and Cell Biology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019
Externally publishedYes


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