QPS Histology Services

QPS Austria’s Department of Histology offers a full set of histology services ranging from collection of tissue samples to delivering study reports that contain all experimental procedures and their outcome. Our approach is based on a sequence of procedural building blocks that allow customization of any service request according to your specific needs. You have the option to select any entry point and exit point in our workflow.

Provide your own animals, take advantage of the large assortment of rodent strains available at QPS Austria, or arrange an external shipment to the QPS animal facility. Beside rodent samples, we also process human and primate tissue on a standard basis. We are specialized in brain and spinal cord tissue collection but are equally capable of dissecting any other tissue of interest. In order to maximize the information gained per tissue sample, QPS Austria also offers biochemical analyses of parts of the same animal.

We provide fast in-house processing by experienced and well-trained staff, and work with highly reliable shipping companies to guarantee safe transfer of your valuable samples.

Dissection & Embedding

Just discuss your needs with us, and we take care of dissecting the target tissue, accurate trimming of the tissue block, fixation and embedding of your tissue samples. Highly standardized default procedures are established, but alternatives can be used upon request. We are experienced working RNase-free.


  • Standard: 4% paraformaldehyde
  • Alternatives: Glutaraldehyde, zinc, picric acid
  • Buffers: PBS, cacodylate, sulfide


  • Standard: OCT or paraffin (Sakura, Tissue-Tek TEC)
  • Alternative: Plastic



QPS Neuro Histology - sectioningOur expertise covers a wide range of sectioning techniques and tissue collection strategies. We process your samples according to the specific requirements of your project.


  • Sliding microtome (Leica, SM2000R)
  • Cryotome (Leica, CM1950S and CM3050S)
  • Vibrating blade microtome (Leica, VT1000S)
  • Choose any orientation and specify the section thickness


  • Specify your collection scheme
  • Systematic uniform random sampling available
    (For explanation see: http://www.stereology.info/sampling/)
  • Free floating sections
  • Sections mounted on slides
  • Choose slides according to your needs


Immunohistology & General Stainings

QPS Neuro Histology - stainingsStaining Techniques and Applications

We routinely perform both fluorescent and chromogenic immunostainings as well as general histological stainings and stainings for special applications. Additionally, we are happy to establish and optimize customized staining protocols for your specific needs.

Our Expertise Includes:

  • Hundreds of established staining protocols
  • Antibody testing and optimization
  • Target validation of viral infections
  • Target validation in transgenic models
  • Compound detection

Multichannel Immunofluorescence

  • 4-channel immunofluorescence plus DAPI labeling of nuclei
  • Numerous validated antibody combinations for mouse, rat and human tissue

General Stainings

  • Hematoxilin-Eosin
  • Cresyl violet (Nissl)
  • Luxol fast blue
  • … and many more

Special Stainings

  • Thioflavin S or Congo Red (amyloid plaques, tau tangles)
  • Golgi-Cox silver impregnation
  • Prussian Blue (microbleedings)


Microscopy & Imaging

QPS Neuro Histology - digital image acquisitionMultidimensional Image Acquisition

What we offer:

  • Automated and comprehensive multidimensional image acquisition
  • Mosaic (tiled) high-resolution images for systematic quantifications
  • Up to 5-channel epifluorescence imaging (green, red, infrared, far red, and nuclear dye DAPI)
  • Systematic uniform random sampling available
    (For explanation see: http://www.stereology.info/sampling/)

Appropriate Imaging Controls

Autofluorescence is an often times neglected, yet serious problem. Most tissues exhibit a certain level of autofluorescence that might be mistaken as specific staining. The unspecific signal usually increases with age and with the size of neuronal cells; this is therefore a common nuisance in human brain samples.

To control for this phenomenon, we often devote one of the four available fluorescent channels to image the „intrinsic“  fluorescence. Subtraction of this channel from the „labeled“ channels allows for determination of the specific signal deriving from targeted structures.

In the example, microglia (green arrows) are specifically labeled by Iba1 antibody in the 550 nm channel. Strong signal deriving from either erythrocytes (white arrowheads) or intracellular lipofuscin grains (white arrows) is identified as unspecific autofluorescence because it appears also in the unlabeled channel at 488 nm. Neuronal somata are labeled with NeuN at 650 nm.

Example of image correction using the autofluorescence channel: (A) the original Iba1 image. (B) The autofluorescence channel. (C) The result when B is subtracted from A to remove non-Iba1 background signal. The corrected image can now be used to quantify specific Iba1 signal.


Quantitative Image Analysis

QPS Neuro Histology - image analysis and measurementWe use sophisticated macro-based software solutions to automatically analyze different features of brain morphology and pathology, e.g. numerical densities of cell somata or axonal fibers, synaptic density, dendritic arborization, area and volume of brain areas or plaques. We are pleased to develop new quantification methods, as well as to assess used (feasibility analysis) or ameliorate existing methods (proof of measurement).

Identification and Detection of Labeled Structures

  • Accuracy of detected labeled structures through:

– Validation of antibodies on knockout tissue whenever possible
– Appropriate imaging controls

  • Determination and consistent usage of thresholding and filtering parameters throughout the whole study

Analysis of Region and Object Features

We routinely offer a wide variety of automatically generated outcome measures. These include:

  • Total immuno-reactive area
  • Sum or mean fluorescence intensity of immuno-reactive particles
  • Number, size, density and shape of labeled particles
  • Size exclusions and binning of objects
  • Exact morphometric delineation of regions of interest for volume estimation
  • And many more


Statistics & Reporting

QPS Neuro Histology - data analysis and statistical evaluationStatistical Data Analysis

  • Professional statistical data analysis (unbiased and representative) performed by our team of scientists and biostatisticians
  • Conscientious quality checks of measurements and results

Reporting of Experiments and Results

  • At the end of each study our customers receive a full study report including all experimental procedures, qualitative and quantitative assessment of the results, as well a comprehensive statistical analysis
  • Constant updates throughout the study are provided if desired