Tomato lectin histochemistry for microglial visualization

Nàdia Villacampa, Beatriz Almolda, Berta González, Bernardo Castellano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


The use of different lectins for the study of microglial cells in the central nervous system (CNS) is a valuable tool that has been extensively used in the last years for the selective staining of this glial cell population, not only in normal physiological conditions, but also in a wide range of pathological situations where the normal homeostasis of the parenchyma is disturbed. In this chapter we accurately describe the methodology for the selective labelling of microglial cells by using the tomato lectin (TL), a protein lectin obtained from Lycopersicum esculentum with specific affinity for poly-N-acetyl lactosamine sugar residues which are found on the plasma membrane and in the cytoplasm of microglia. Here we describe how to perform this technique on vibratome, frozen, and paraffin sections for optical microscopy, as well as for transmission electron microscopy (TEM) studies. Using this methodology it is possible to visualize amoeboid microglia in the developing brain, ramified microglia in the adult, and activated/reactive microglia in the experimentally damaged brain. In addition, as TL also recognized sugar residues in endothelial cells, this technique is very useful for the study of the relationship established between microglia and the CNS vasculature. © 2013 Springer Science+Business Media New York.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)261-279
JournalMethods in Molecular Biology
Publication statusPublished - 18 Jul 2013


  • Double labelling
  • Fluorescence
  • Histochemistry
  • Microglia
  • Tomato lectin
  • Transmission electron microscopy


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