, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 73-85

The chemical and histochemical properties of Alcian Blue

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Alcian Blues are a family of polyvalent basic dyes, with at least two, and up to four isothiouronium groups per copper phthalocyanine ring. The isothiouronium group is a little more basic than ammonia but not so basic as caustic soda. Alcian Blues react with polyanions such as heparin, DNA and hyaluronate in aqueous solution, to give insoluble precipitates, in which the two reactants are bound electrostatically, in a “salt link”. The combination of model compounds containing isothiouronium groups with a range of biological polyanions showed that there was no unusual specificity in this combination.

Supported by Research Grants D-1325, D-1326 and D-01952 of the National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Md.
On leave of absence: University of Rome Medical School, Viale Regina Elena, 287-A, Rome, Italy.