[Histonet] Suggestions for staining ground substances in the Heart

John Kiernan jkiernan at uwo.ca
Thu Jul 2 00:49:40 CDT 2015

Movat's pentachrome is unnecessarily complicated when you want to look only at one component of a tissue. 

Most "ground substance" (extracellular material between cells, collagen fibres etc) is weakly stainable with PAS, alcian blue pH2.5 or both. It's usual to stain with alcian blue first (Mowry's method). If you do the PAS first, the PAS-positive materials will also stain with alcian blue and be darker. For the reasons, see:

Johannes, M.-L. and Klessen, C. (1984). Alcian blue/PAS or PAS/alcian blue? Remarks on a classical technique used in carbohydrate histochemistry. Histochemistry 80:129-132.

Yamabayashi, S. (1987). Periodic acid-Schiff-alcian blue: a method for the differential staining of glycoproteins. Histochemical Journal 19:565-571.

Reid, P.E. and Owen, D.A. (1988). Some comments on the mechanism of the periodic acid-Schiff-Alcian blue method. Histochemical Journal 20:651-654.

If you can predict the PAS-AB effect without further reading, you already have a good understanding of how the traditional methods of carbohydrate histochemistry work!

John Kiernan
London, Canada
= = =
On 30/06/15, "Wolfe, Christina"  <christina.wolfe at bms.com> wrote:
> Hi all,
> We are interested in staining ground substances in the heart. Are there other stains that will work beside the Pentachrome? We have tried the Movat's pentachrome (commercial kit) and are able to demonstrate ground substance in the bone with the alcian blue part of this stain. In our hands the goblet cells of the gut and the ground substance in the heart are devoid of staining. We have tried sections cut at 4 and 6 microns. Any thoughts/suggestions?
> Kristie
> Christina Wolfe, BSHA, MLT (ASCP), HT, QIHC
> Drug Safety Evaluation/Bristol-Myers Squibb
> Pathology Dept.
> 812-307-2093
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