The Histochemical Journal

, Volume 4, Issue 5, pp 391-399

First online:

Impurities and staining characteristics of Alcian Blue samples

  • R. W. HorobinAffiliated withDepartment of Human Biology and Anatomy, University of Sheffield
  • , D. J. GoldsteinAffiliated withDepartment of Human Biology and Anatomy, University of Sheffield

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The composition of various samples of Alcian Blue* and related dyes was studied, using t.l.c. (with cellulose as adsorbent andn-butanol: acetic acid: water as developing solvent), solvent extraction and precipitation, i.r. spectroscopy and classical semimicro analysis. All the Alcian Blue samples appeared to contain the same coloured components. The Alcian Green samples were mixtures of these blue components and Alcian Yellow. All the Astra Blue samples examined were composed of the same blue constituents. Colourless components identified were boricacid, dextrin and sulphate and sometimes amounted to nearly three-quarters by weight of the crude dyes. Impurities had only a slight effect on staining with Alcian Blue in aqueous acetic acid but appreciably affected staining by the critical electrolyte concentration (C.E.C.) procedure. Dextrin as impurity raised C.E.C. limits while the inorganic salt impurities raised the C.E.C. values of some substrates and lowered those of others.