Special Stains

Listed below are a number of special stains performed on a regular basis which highlight certain structures or cells within a tissue. Below is a selected list, however many more are available; please contact us if you don’t see what you are looking for.

Alcian Blue
  • Polysaccharides stain blue
  • Nuclei stain red
alcian-largeClick to enlarge
Astra Blue – Vital New Red
Mast cells, eosinophils
  • Mast cells stain blue, eosinophils stain red
Chloroacetate Esterase
Esterase activity in mast cells
  • Esterase activity stain red / pink
  • Nuclei stain blue
Congo Red
  • Eosinophils and elastin stain brick red
  • Nuclei stain blue
  • Other tissue elements stain clear / pale pink
Blood cells and parasites
  • Nuclei stain blue / purple
  • Acidophils stain pink / red
  • Basophils stain blue
  • Eosinophils stain red / orange
  • Mast cells stain purple (granules)
  • Parasites stain blue / dark blue
giemsa-largeClick to enlarge
Goldner’s Trichrome
  • Mineralized bone stain green
  • Osteoid stain orange / red
  • Cartilage stain purple
  • Nuclei stain blue
goldners-largeClick to enlarge
Masson’s Trichrome
Connective tissue
  • Collagen fibers stain blue
  • Nuclei stain black
  • Cytoplasm
  • Keratin
  • Muscle fibers
  • Intracellular fibers stain red
Massons-largeClick to enlarge
Movat Pentachrome
Elastic fibres, mucin, and collagen
  • Elastic fibres stain purple / black
  • Muscle stains red
  • Collagen and bone stains yellow
  • Mucicarmine stain
  • Ground substance stains blue / green
  • Cytoplasm stains pink / brown
  • Nuclei stains dark purple / black
movat-largeClick to enlarge
Myosin ATPase 4.2, 4.6, 9.4
Muscle fibre types
  • Muscle fibre type 1, 2A, 2B, and 2C demonstrated in varying shades of grey to black
  • Lipids stain bright red
  • nuclei stain blue
Carbohydrates, glycogen, mucin, glycoprotein, and some basement membranes
  • stains magenta
  • Nuclei stain blue
PAS-largeClick to enlarge
Phloroglucinal stain
Plant stain
  • Lignin in plant cell wall stain red
Phloroglucinal-largeClick to enlarge
Picrosirius red
  • Collagen stain red
  • Nuclei stain grey / black
  • Other tissue elements stain pale yellow
Picrosirius-largeClick to enlarge
Silver Stain
Neurons, glial cells, and reticular fibers
  • Stain dark silver
silver-stain-largeClick to enlarge
Toluidine Blue
Mast cells
  • Stains red
  • Other tissue elements stain varying shades of blue
Cellular apoptosis
  • Apoptotic cells stain brown / black
  • Nuclei stain light blue
Verhoeff’s Van Gieson
Connective tissue
  • Elastic fibers and nuclei stain black
  • Collagen stains red
  • Other tissue elements stain yellow
Verhoeff-largeClick to enlarge
Wright’s Stain
Blood film
  • Erythrocytes stain yellow / red
  • Polymorphonuclear neutrophils’ cytoplasm stain pink / tan
  • Eosinophils’ granules stain red / orange; basophils’ granules stain purple
  • Lymphocytes’ cytoplasm stain sky blue
  • Nuclei stain reddish purple