Felis ISSN 2398-2950

Histopathology: special stains

Contributor(s): Melanie Dobromylskyj

Introduction

  • The hematoxylin and eosin (HE) stain is the routine stain used in histological sections and will be the first slide a pathologist looks at.
  • Based on the appearance of this HE section, further different stains may be needed, for a number of differing reasons, for example:
    • To try and further identify poorly differentiated neoplastic cells, eg mast cells or mucin-secreting cells.
    • To highlight and identify infectious agents.
    • To identify deposits such as amyloid, calcium and a variety of pigments.
  • Some specific tissue structures simply do not stain well with routine HE stains:
    • Reticulin fibers in the liver; a silver stain will allow better assessment of liver architecture.
    • Hydrophobic structures which tend to remain clear since these are rich in fats.
  • Listed below are some of the more commonly used special stains in diagnostic histopathology, but this is not an exhaustive list.
  • Immunohistochemistry Immunohistochemistry (IHC) is separate and distinctly different, often more sensitive, using enzyme linked antibody reactions to look at cytoplasmic and nuclear expression of specific cell markers or material.

Giemsa (and other metachromatic stains such as Toluidine blue)

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Gram stain

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Silver stains

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Ziehl-Neelsen (ZN)

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Periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)

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Congo Red

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von Kossa

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Other tissue components

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Permanganate bleach

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Further Reading

Publications

Refereed Papers

Other sources of information


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