A Guide to Special Stains Part 2

By: Meghan McDonald

In Part 2 of this series, Meghan McDonald shares a few more of the most common special stains in histology.

Figure 6

Iron stain is used to detect ferric (Fe3+) iron in tissues. Ferric iron is generally found in small quantities in the bone marrow and spleen; however, when too much iron is stored in the body, the excess amount is stored as hemosiderin. Nuclei and hemofuchsin will be bright red, hemosiderin (iron) will be blue and the background will be pink. See Figure 6.

Figure 7

Masson’s Trichrome is used to differentiate between collagen and smooth muscle. Nuclei will be black, cytoplasm and muscle will be red and collagen and mucin blue. See Figure 7.

Figure 8

Mucicarmine is used to stain for “epithelial” mucin in tissue sections. Mucin will be a deep rose to red color, nuclei black and other tissue elements blue or yellow. See Figure 8.

Figure 9

PAS Alcian Blue pH 2.5% is a type of carbohydrate stain used to differentiate between acidic epithelial mucins and neutral epithelial mucins. Acidic mucins will be stained by Alcian blue, giving it a dark blue color, and neutral mucins will be stained by PAS, giving it a pink to red color. See Figure 9.

If you haven't already, check out part 1 here for even more special stains: https://www.fixationonhistology.com/home/a-guide-to-special-stains-part-1


A Congo Red Study, Researchgate.net. March 2014.

AFB, Basic Fuchsin, Ellis & Zabrowarny Stain Kit, Newcomer Supply. 2018

Alcian Blue/PAS Kit, Newcomer Supply. 2018

Copper, Newcomer Supply. 2018

Elastic, Verhoeff Stain Kit, Newcomer Supply. 2018

Gomori Methenamine Silver stain, Abcam. 2018.

Gram, Brown-Hopps Stain Kit, Newcomer Supply. 2018

Histotechnology: A Self-Instructional Test, 3rd Edition, Freida L. Carson, 2009.

Iron, Gomori Prussian Blue Stain Kit, Newcomer Supply. 2018

Mucin, Mayer Mucicarmine Stain Kit, Newcomer Supply. 2018

Trichrome, Masson, Aniline Blue Stain Kit, Newcomer Supply. 2018

PAS Stain, Schiff’s Reagent, Glycogen Stain, Newcomer Supply. 2018

Reticulum, Gordon & Sweets Stain Kit, Newcomer Supply. 2018

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