Acta Neuropathologica

, 118:685 | Cite as

Llama VHH antibody fragments against GFAP: better diffusion in fixed tissues than classical monoclonal antibodies

  • Claire Perruchini
  • Frederic Pecorari
  • Jean-Pierre Bourgeois
  • Charles Duyckaerts
  • François Rougeon
  • Pierre LafayeEmail author
Original Paper


Camelids produce antibodies made of homodimeric heavy chains, and the antigen-binding region being composed of a single domain called VHH. These VHHs are much smaller than complete IgG. They are also more thermostable and more soluble in water; they should, therefore, diffuse more readily in the tissues. VHHs, expressed in bacteria, are easier to produce than conventional monoclonal antibodies. Because of these special characteristics, these antibody fragments could have interesting developments in immunohistochemistry and in the development of biomarkers. To test the possibility of their use in immunohistochemistry (IHC), we selected the glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), a well-known marker of astrocytes. One alpaca (Lama pacos) was immunized against GFAP. Lymphocytes were isolated; the DNA was extracted; the VHH-coding sequences were selectively amplified. Three VHHs with a high affinity for GFAP and their corresponding mRNA were selected by ribosome display. Large quantities of the recombinant VHHs coupled with different tags were harvested from transfected bacteria. One of them was shown to immunolabel strongly and specifically to GFAP of human astrocytes in tissue sections. The quality of the IHC was comparable or, in some aspects, superior to the quality obtained with conventional IgG. The VHH was shown to diffuse on a longer distance than conventional monoclonal antibodies in fixed cortical tissue: a property that may be useful in immunolabeling of thick sections.


Homodimeric antibodies Camel GFAP VHImmunohistochemistry 



We would like to thank the Brainbank GIE Neuro-CEB of Hôpital de la Pitié-Salpétrière for providing human cortical brain tissue. We want also thank Dr Agathe Subtil from Pasteur Institute for the gift of the rabbit anti-His antibodies.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Claire Perruchini
    • 1
  • Frederic Pecorari
    • 2
  • Jean-Pierre Bourgeois
    • 3
  • Charles Duyckaerts
    • 1
  • François Rougeon
    • 4
  • Pierre Lafaye
    • 4
    Email author
  1. 1.INSERM U289, Hôpital de la SalpêtrièreParisFrance
  2. 2.CNRS UMR 6204, Université de NantesNantesFrance
  3. 3.Institut PasteurUnité de Génétique Humaine et Fonctions Cognitives, CNRS URA 2182Paris CedexFrance
  4. 4.Institut PasteurUnité de Génétique et Biochimie du Développement, CNRS U2581Paris Cedex 15France

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