A "handy" explanation of Masson's Trichrome Stain

Trichrome Hand Stain, submitted in the Art of the Stain Contest by Christina George

Last month, members voted in NSH's Art of the Stain Contest, an annual contest in which histologists submit their most beautiful or interesting stains. Though not the winner of the contest, this stain, a Masson's Trichrome Stain, submitted by Christina George, piqued the interest of the NSH PR Committee. They decided to reach out to Christina to learn more about this fascinating stain, which came in second place in the contest.

Here is what Christina shared with us about her stain:

The figure shows a Masson’s Trichrome stain of a human fetal hand from a products-of-conception specimen. The tissue was formalin-fixed, embedded in paraffin, and sectioned on a Sakura Accut-Cut SRM microtome. The sections were placed on positively charged slides prior to staining.

The Masson’s Trichrome stain is a commonly used special stain in histopathology to demonstrate/assess the presence of collagen in tissue, and/or differentiate between collagen and muscle. The stain is routinely used on liver biopsies to demonstrate the degree of portal and lobular fibrosis, and on kidney biopsies to evaluate for collagen fibrosis of the interstitium.

This photomicrograph of a Trichrome-stained fetal hand shows the presence of collagen (blue) within the developing fetal bones undergoing endochondral ossification, and the presence of intervening muscle fibers (red).


Kumar GL, Kiernan JA. Special Stains and H&E, 2nd Ed. Dako, North America Inc; 2010:93-98.

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