Pathology/histology couple highly trained professionals with cutting-edge equipment that requires advanced training, an eye for detail and a steady hand. Which make and model of equipment is used depends on a mixture of operator preference and the nature of the task, for example if a frozen section is required, a cryostat will be used.
In histology, a wide number of different stains are typically used. The table below outlines some common laboratory stains used in histology.
Common laboratory stains used in histology
|Stain||Common use||Nucleus||Cytoplasms||Red blood cell (RBC)||Collagen fibers||Specifically stains|
|Haematoxylin||General staining when paired with eosin (i.e. H&E)||Orange, Cyan Blue or Green||Blue/Brown/Black||N/A||N/A||Nucleic acids—blue
ER (endoplasmic reticulum)—blue
|Eosin||General staining when paired with haematoxylin (i.e. H&E)||N/A||Pink||Orange/red||Pink||Elastic fibers—pink
|Toluidine blue||General staining||Blue||Blue||Blue||Blue||Mast cells granules—purple|
|Masson’s trichrome stain||Connective tissue||Black||Red/pink||Red||Blue/green||Cartilage—blue/green
|Mallory’s trichrome stain||Connective tissue||Red||Pale red||Orange||Deep blue||Keratin—orangeCartilage—blue
Bone matrix—deep blue
|Weigert’s elastic stain||Elastic fibers||Blue/black||N/A||N/A||N/A||Elastic fibers—blue/black|
|Heidenhain’s AZAN trichrome stain||Distinguishing cells from extracellular components||Red/purple||Pink||Red||Blue||Muscle fibers—red
|Silver stain||Reticular fibers, nerve fibers, fungi||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||Reticular fibers—brown/black
|Wright’s stain||Blood cells||Bluish/purple||Bluish/gray||Red/pink||N/A||Neutrophil granules—purple/pink
Eosinophil granules—bright red/orange
Basophil granules—deep purple/violet
|Orcein stain||Elastic fibres||Deep blue||N/A||Bright red||Pink||Elastic fibres—dark brown
Mast cells granules—purple
Smooth muscle—light blue
|Periodic acid-Schiff stain (PAS)||Basement membrane, localizing carbohydrates||Blue||N/A||N/A||Pink||Glycogen and other carbohydrates—magenta|
Table sourced from Michael H. Ross; Wojciech Pawlina (2006). Histology: A Text and Atlas. Hagerstown, MD: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, taken from here.