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Commonly

Used for

Typical cell
Nucleus
Cytoplasm

Red Blood Cells

Collagen Fibers

Specifically stains

Hematoxylin

General staining
with eosin

Blue

Nucleic acids, blue


rER (ergastoplasm), blue

Eosin

General staining
with hematoxylin

Pink

Orange/red

Pink

Elastic fibers, pink


Reticular fibers, pink

Toluidine Blue
(metachromatic stain)

General staining

Blue

Blue

Blue

Blue

Mast cells granules, purple

Gomoris trichrome
stain

Connective and
muscle tissue

Gray/blue

Red

Red

Green

Muscle fibers, red

Massons trichrome
stain

Connective
tissue

Black

Red/pink

Red

Blue/green

Cartilage, blue/green
Muscle fibers, red

Mallorys trichrome
stain

Connective
tissue

Red

Pale red

Orange

Deep blue

Keratin, orange
Cartilage, blue
Bone matrix, deep blue
Muscle fibers, red

Weigerts elastic stain

Elastic fibers

Blue/black

Elastic fiber, blue/black

Heidenhainsazan
trichrome stain
(azocarmine + aniline
blue)

Distinguishing
cells from
extracellular
components

Red/purple

Pink

Red

Blue

Muscle fibers, red


Cartilage and bone
matrix, deep blue

Silver stain

Reticular fibers
Nerve fibers

Reticular fibers, brown/black


Nerve fibers, brown/black

Wrights stain

Blood cells

Bluish/purple

Bluish/gray

Red/pink

Neutrophil granules, purple/pink


Eosinophil granules, bright
red/orange
Basophil granules, deep purple/violet
Platelet granules, red/purple

Orcein stain

Elastic fibers

Deep blue

Bright red

Pink

Elastic fibers, dark brown


Mast cell granules, purple
Smooth muscle, light blue

Periodic acid-Schiff
(PAS) stain

Basement
membrane,
localizing
carbohydrates

Blue

Pink

Glycogen and other


carbohydrates, magenta

Stain

Photomicrograph
Examples

Ross_IBC Table 14/07/10 9:59 AM Page 1

Most Commonly Used Stains and Their Characteristics