Stains & Dyes

Our Stains

All of our stains are modified by in house specialists, who tailor them for bright, exact color staining for all types of tissues.  These stains are closely regulated by our trained staff through control tissues.  Staining solutions are made in house from powdered dyes to specific specifications and tested on control tissue before using.  All solutions are tested for correct pH, given lot numbers and expiration dates.  This monitoring system gives correct staining characteristics that are necessary for correct tissue identification.

This stains list is by no means the be all end all list for us, we are happy to work-up any particular stain that you prefer.  As we have stated in recent blog posts, we will also modify any of our stains to your liking.  One recent customer wanted nuclei present in their picrosirius red stain.  It took a couple trials to find out how our client wanted it to look, but they are now happy.  Most of our stains have been modified in some way for it’s users.  Our gram stain, Brown and Hopps, one client asked if we would not use the background stain because their computer program had trouble reading it.  Even though we had never done this, we tested it and found it to work just as well as the original stain.  It’s the little things in life that can make you happy, we are happy to help.

The stains below, and their pictures are done routinely at Histologistics.  These are only the stains and dyes.  We also routinely perform immunohistochemistry and immunofluorescence staining.   

Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E)

This the basic morphology stain. that renders the nuclei purple, with all other tissue components 3 shades of pink.  There are also more our stains located on Pinterest

I have noticed the abnormal tissues do not stain as vibrantly as the normal tissues do.  Possibly a side effect?

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Monday – Friday 9am to 5pm EST

JMD Histology & Histologistics Inc.


Expected Results

  • Nuclei –Blue
  • Cytoplasm and other tissue elements – 3 Shades of Pink
  • Blood – Red
microscopic breast stained with H&E
Breast H&E
Microscopic skin stained with H&E
Skin H&E
Microscopic brain stained with H&E
Brain H&E
microscopic fisheye stained with H&E
Fish Eye H&E

To view more H&E staining visit our new picture page Histology Microscopic Pictures

Acid Fast Bacilli (AFB)

The counterstain used is by personal preference, we have used green or blue.

Expected Results

  • Acid-fast bacilli – Bright Red
  • Erythrocytes – Yellowish Orange
  •  Other tissue elements – Pale blue

Alcian Blue and it’s Variations + Alcian Blue / PAS Control Slides

These are great stains for a range of sulfated mucosubstances and mucins, glycosaminoglycans, hyaluronic acid, and sialomucins.

Expected Results

  • Weakly acidic sulfated Mucosubstances, hyaluronic acid and sialomucins- Dark blue
  •  Background- Pink to red
microscopic picture of breast stained with alcian blue
Breast – Alcian Blue
Microscopic picture of colon stained with alcian blue / PAS
Colon Alcian Blue / PAS
Microscopic picture of colon stained with a variation of alcian blue
Colon Alcian blue variation staining strongly sulfated mucins
Microscopic picture of colon stained with a variation of alcian blue
Colon Alcian Blue variation staining highly sulfated connective tissue

Alizarin Red S / Calcium Control Slides

This stains for calcium.  The minerals turn orange with a yellow background under a normal light microscope. Utilizing polarizing lenses makes the background turn dark blue or black with the minerals fluoresce orange.

Expected Results

  • Calcium Deposits (except oxalate)  – Orange-Red
  • All other tissue elements – Yellow
microscopic picture of kidney stained with alizarin red S for calcium
Kidney stained with Alizarin Red S For Calcium
Microscopic picture of kidney stained with alizarin red S for Calcium
Polarized kidney stained with alizarin red S for Calcium deposits (orange)

Benhold’s Congo Red / Amyloid Control Slides

This is a great stain for amyloidosis instead of doing IHC.

Expected Results

  • Amyloid Deposits – Red
  • Background and nuclei – Purple
  • Congo red -polarized

Rhodanine / Copper Control Slides

Expected Results

  • Copper granules – Orange
  • Everything else – Blue

Field’s Stain 

Expected results

  • Bacteria, including pylori – Deep Blue
  • Cellular elements – Similar to a Romanowsky stain
  • Malaria chromatin – Purple Red to Deep Red
  • Malaria cytoplasm – Blue

Fontana Masson

Expected results

  • Melanin – Black
  • Background – Pinkish red

May-Grunwald Giemsa 

Expected results

  • Rickettsia – Violet
  •  Nuclei – Blue
  •  Cytoplasm, connective tissue – Pink
  •  Erythrocytes – Salmon

Gram Brown and Hopps Method

Expected results

  • Gram Positive bacteria – Blue
  • Gram Negative bacteria – Red
  • Additional tissue elements –Yellow

Grocott’s Methenamine Silver (GMS)

Expected results

  • Fungi – Sharply delineated in Black
  • Pneumocystis carnii – Black
  • Mucin – Taupe to dark Grey
  •  Inner parts of mycelia and hyphae – Old Rose
  •  Background – Pale Green

Hall’s Method for Bile

Expected results

  • Bile (bilirubin)- Green
  • Connective Tissue – Red to pink
  • All other tissue – Yellow

Modification of Mowry’s 1958 Colloidal Iron Stain For Acid Mucopolysaccharides (Colloidal Iron)

Expected results

  • Acidic mucopolysaccharides and acidic epithelial mucins  – Deep blue
  • Background – Red

Luxol Fast Blue (LFB) – We have 4 variations; LFB / H&E, LFB / PAS, LFB / NFR, LFB / CV

Expected results – LFB / H&E

  • Myelin- Blue
  • Nuclei- Purple
  • Background – Pink
Microscopic picture of brain stained with LFB & H&E

Expected results – LFB / Periodic Acid Schiff (PAS)

  • Myelin- Blue
  • Nuclei- Purple
  • Background – Pink
microscopic picture of brain stained with LFB and periodic acid schiff

Expected results – LFB / Cresyl Violet (CV)

  • Myelin – Blue
  • Nissel Substance – Violet
  • Nuclei – Violet
Microscopic picture of brain stained with LFB cresyl violet

Expected results – LFB / Nuclear Fast Red (NFR)

  • Myelin- Blue
  • Nucleus- Red
microscopic picture of brain stained with LFB and nuclear fast red

Mallory PTAH

Expected results

  • Cross-striations, fibrin – Blue
  • Nuclei – Blue
  • Collagen – Red-Brown
Microscopic picture of heart stained with PTAH
Heart PTAH

Masson’s Trichrome Blue or Green

Expected results

  • Nuclei- Black
  • Cytoplasm, keratin, muscle fiber and intercellular fibers- Red
  • Collagen – Blue or Green (depends on preference)
Microscopic picture of heart stained with masson's trichrome
Masson’s Trichrome
microscopic picture of colon stained with Masson's trichrome
Masson’s Trichrome – Colon
microscopic picture of aorta stained with Masson's trichrome
Masson’s Trichrome (green) Aorta
microscopic picture of cord stained with Masson's trichrome
Masson’s Trichrome (green)

Mayer’s Mucicarmine / Positive Control Slides

Expected results:

  • Mucin – Deep rose to red
  • Capsule of Cryptococcus – Deep rose to red
  • Nuclei – Black
  • Other tissue elements – Yellow

Movat’s Modified Pentachrome

Expected Results

  • Nuclei and elastic fibers—Black
  • Collagen—Yellow
  • Ground substance and mucin–Blue
  • Fibrinoid, fibrin–Intense Red

Oil Red O

Expected results

  • Fat Globules – Orange Red
  • Nuclei – Blue
microscopic picture of liver stained with oil red O
Oil Red O – Liver

Orcein for Hepatitis

Expected results

  • HBsAg – Dark brown
microscopic picture of hepatitis stained with Orcein
Hepatitis B

Periodic Acid Schiff (PAS) / (Glycogen) Control Slides

Expected results depend somewhat on the counterstain used:

Hematoxylin – Glycogen, mucin, fibrin, or thrombi, colloid droplets, hyaline of arteriosclerosis, hyaline deposits in glomeruli, granular cells in the renal arterioles where preserved, most basement membranes, colloid of pituitary stalks and thyroid, amyloid infiltration may show a positive reaction –Rose to Purplish Red

  • Nuclei – Blue
  • Light Green – Fungi – Red   
  • Background – Pale Green

PAS With Digestion / Control Slides

Expected results

The PAS stain is used to detect containing a high proportion of carbohydrate macromolecules (glycogenglycoproteinproteoglycans), typically found in e.g. connective tissuesmucus, the glycocalyx, and basal laminaehttp://(

The variation on the PAS technique involves simply exposing the section to the diastase enzyme amylase prior to continuing with the standard PAS method.  The diagnostic purpose of performing the PASD technique includes:

  1. The removal of glycogen to make it easier to identify mucins stained by the PAS stain.
  2. Analysis of glycogen deposits within the liver.
  3. Highlighting a thickened basement membrane for example in lupus.

 Picro Sirius Red and Fast Green

We have 2 variations of this stain.  

  1. The polarizing stain 

Expected Results

  • Muscle, cytoplasm –Yellow Collagen– Red
    • With polarizing microscopy:
  • Large collagen fibers–Yellow or Orange
  • Thin collagen fibers–Green  
microscopic picture of polarized skin stained with picrosirius red
Skin Picrosirius Red (polarized)
microscopic picture of polarized skin stained with picrosirius red
Skin – picrosirius red

  2. One non-polarizing stain

Expected Results

  • Muscle – Red,
  • Cytoplasm –Yellow          
  • Collagen – Red  
  • Nuclei  – Black
microscopic heart stained with picrosirius red fast green
Heart – picrosirius red with nuclei
Human placenta stained
Human placenta picrosirius red fast green

Pizzolato’s Method for Calcium Oxalate

Expected results

  • Calcium oxalate – Black
  • All other tissue components – Red
microscopic view of kidney with calcium deposits (black) stained with pizzoalto's
Kidney calcium (black) with Pizzolato’s

Prussian Blue for Ferric Iron / Ferric Iron Control Slides

Expected results

  • Iron (ferric form) – Bright Blue Background – Depends on counterstain used

Safranin-O-Fast Green

Expected results:

  • Articular cartilage (proteoglycan) – Red
  • Nuclei- Blue
  • Background- Green
microscopic knee joint stained with safranin-o-fast green
Safranin-O Fast Green
microscopic knee joint stained with safranin-O
Joint Safranin-O
Snook’s Method for Reticulum

Expected results:

  • Reticulum fibers – lavender grey to black  
  • Background – pink to rose
microscopic picture of brain stained with snook's reticulin stain
Kidney reticulum (black) 20x
microscopic picture of liver with reticulin (black)
Liver Reticulin (black)

Steiner & Steiner for Spirochetes

Expected results:

  • Spirochetes – Black
  • Background – Yellow
Human Lung with Spirochetes

Toluidine Blue (T-Blue) / Mast Cell Control Slides

Expected results:

  • Histamine granules of the mast cell – Violet
  • Background and Nuclei – Blue
microscopic skin stained with toluidine blue, counterstained with fast green
Skin Toluidine Blue / fast green for Mast cells (purple)
microscopic skin stained with toluidine blue for mast cells
Human Skin Toluidine Blue, no counterstain, for Mast cells (purple)
microscopic bladder stained with toluidine blue for mast cells
Bladder – Toluidine Blue for Mast cells (purple)
microscopic heart stained with toluidine blue for mast cells
Heart – Toluidine Blue for Mast cells (purple)

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