A method for acetylcholinesterase staining of brain sections previously processed for receptor autoradiography

Miranda M. Lim, E. A.D. Hammock, L. J. Young

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Receptor autoradiography using selective radiolabeled ligands allows visualization of brain receptor distribution and density on film. The resolution of specific brain regions on the film often can be difficult to discern owing to the general spread of the radioactive label and the lack of neuroanatomical landmarks on film. Receptor binding is a chemically harsh protocol that can render the tissue virtually unstainable by Nissl and other conventional stains used to delineate neuroanatomical boundaries of brain regions. We describe a method for acetylcholinesterase (AChE) staining of slides previously processed for receptor binding. AChE staining is a useful tool for delineating major brain nuclei and tracts. AChE staining on sections that have been processed for receptor autoradiography provides a direct comparison of brain regions for more precise neuroanatomical description. We report a detailed thiocholine protocol that is a modification of the Koelle-Friedenwald method to amplify the AChE signal in brain sections previously processed for autoradiography. We also describe several temporal and experimental factors that can affect the density and clarity of the AChE signal when using this protocol.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)11-16
Number of pages6
JournalBiotechnic and Histochemistry
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2004
Externally publishedYes


  • AChE
  • Acetylcholinesterase
  • Amygdala
  • Brain
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Receptor autoradiography
  • Thiocholine method

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Medical Laboratory Technology


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