Ronald A. Bergman, Ph.D., Adel K. Afifi, M.D., Paul M. Heidger,
Peer Review Status: Externally Peer Reviewed
A. Human, 10% formalin, H. & E., 612 x.
B. Human, 10% formalin, Pinkus' acid orcein-Giemsa method, 612 x.
This figure illustrates the value of special staining techniques in histology. In A, the routine H. & E. method shows clearly the epidermis and dermis. The special technique used in B differentiates elastic fibers from collagen fibers, both of which are important components of the dermis. The H. & E. stain does not specifically reveal elastic fibers. Whereas the elastic tissue stain provides contrasting colors in collagen and elastic fibers, the essential point is that the orcein stain specifically discriminates and delineates elastic fibers from collagen and other tissue components and is therefore an important research tool. In addition, this method provides useful information about tissue and organ structures that the H. & E. fails to provide. The H. & E. stain is a good general method, with marked limitations, which should be appreciated if more than a superficial understanding of microscopic structure and function is to be obtained.
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