, Volume 57, Issue 3, pp 177-187

Silver impregnation methods for reticulum fibers and reticulin: A re-investigation of their origins and specifity

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Summary

Maresch (1905) introduced Bielschowsky's silver impregnation technic for neurofibrils as a stain for reticulum fibers, but emphasized the nonspecifity of such procedures. This lack of specifity has been confirmed repeatedly. Yet, since the 1920's the definition of “reticulin” and studies of its distribution were based solely on silver impregnation technics. The chemical mechanism and specifity of this group of stains is obscure. Application of Gomori's and Wilder's methods to human tissues showed variations of staining patterns with the fixatives and technics employed. Besides reticulum fibers, various other tissue structures, e.g. I bands of striated muscle, fibers in nervous tissues, and model substances, e.g. polysaccharides, egg white, gliadin, were also stained. Deposition of silver compounds on reticulum fibers was limited to an easily removable substance; the remaining collagen component did not bind silver. These histochemical studies indicate that silver impregnation technics for reticulum fibers have no chemical significance and cannot be considered as histochemical technics for “reticulin” or type III collagen.