A rapid microwave-in situ hybridization method for the definitive diagnosis of oral hairy leukoplakia: Comparison with immunohistochemistry

M. J.E.M.F. Mabruk*, S. R. Flint, D. C. Coleman, O. Shiels, M. Toner, G. J. Atkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


As a diagnostic technique, in situ hybridization requires a long processing time, a degree of expertise and may be difficult to handle routinely in some laboratories. To simplify the in situ hybridization method, we have modified a microwave in situ hybridization technique and applied it to oral hairy leukoplakia (OHL) biopsies obtained from 10 HIV-seropositive patients (definitively diagnosed by a conventional in situ hybridization technique) with appropriate controls. It was necessary to design a novel chamber to avoid drying of sections during the hybridization step. This modified microwave in situ hybridization technique was equispecific and equisensitire to the conventional technique and it shortens the hybridization time from overnight incubation to 14 minutes. To determine the sensitivity of our microwave in situ hybridization method we applied it to previously documented tongue tissue obtained from an AIDS autopsy without clinical evidence of OHL, but found to contain Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) by conventional in situ hybridization. This tissue specimen acted as a low EBV copy number, positive control. The sensitivity of immunohistochemistry using three different commercial detection kits was compared to that of in situ hybridization on the same tissues, following optimisation steps. This included the use of 2 cycles of primary and biotinylated secondary antibodies (antibody double cycling). Clearly positive signals for EBV were detected in all OHL biopsies with the Vectastain Elite ABC and the Histostain-SP kits. The sensitivity of the three commercial detection kits was evaluated at immunohistochemistry level by their application to the low-EBV copy number positive control specimen. Signals for EBV antigen in the low copy number positive control specimen were obtained only with the Vectastain Elite ABC kit. This indicates that, in this application, use of the Vectastain Elite ABC kit gives comparable sensitivity for immunohistochemistry to that found by in situ hybridization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)170-176
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Oral Pathology and Medicine
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1996
Externally publishedYes


  • Epstein-Barr virus
  • immunohistochemistry
  • microwave in situ
  • oral hairy leukoplakia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Oral Surgery
  • Otorhinolaryngology
  • Cancer Research
  • Periodontics


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