, Volume 96, Issue 3, pp 215–228

New investigations on hematoxylin, hematein, and hematein-aluminium complexes

II. Hematein-aluminium complexes and hemalum staining
  • Ch. Bettinger
  • H. W. Zimmermann

DOI: 10.1007/BF00271540

Cite this article as:
Bettinger, C. & Zimmermann, H.W. Histochemistry (1991) 96: 215. doi:10.1007/BF00271540


The absorption spectra of hematein-aluminium solutions have been recorded at various concentrations and pH values; the solutions were prepared using analytically pure hematein and potassium alum as aluminium source. In aqueous solution, four different hematein-aluminium complexes could be distinguished by absorption spectroscopy. In weakly acidic media we observed the violet 1:1 and 1:2 complexes HmAl (VII) and HmAlinf2sup3⊕(VIII), and in strongly acidic solution the red 1:1 complex HmAl2⊕ (IX). Whereas, in weakly alkaline solution the blue 1:1 complex HmAl0 (X) was detected. By change of the pH value the complexes were mutual interconverted. The dye complexes were characterized by their absorption spectra and molar extinction coefficients. We have stained HeLa cells with the complex solutions under different experimental conditions. In all cases the nuclear staining was intense whereas the staining of the cytoplasm was weak. The microspectra of the stained nuclei were recorded and compared with the absorption spectra of the complexes in solution. Thus it was possible to identify the bound dye species. After staining in acidic media, the cells were red to redviolet depending on the reaction conditions. The three cationic dye species VII, VIII, and IX were bound in varying amounts. After blueing in weakly acidic media or in water, only the violet dye complex VII was detected whereas, after blueing in weakly alkaline media, only the blue complex X has been observed. Enzymatic digestion experiments have shown that the dye complexes in the nuclei were bound to DNA while those in the cytoplasm and nucleoli were bound to RNA. The binding between the dye complexes and the nucleic acids is discussed.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ch. Bettinger
    • 1
  • H. W. Zimmermann
    • 1
  1. 1.Institut für Physikalische Chemie der Universität FreiburgFreiburg i. Br.Federal Republic of Germany

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