, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 73–85 | Cite as

The chemical and histochemical properties of Alcian Blue

I. The mechanism of Alcian Blue staining
  • J. E. Scott
  • G. Quintarelli
  • M. C. Dellovo


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.


Public Health Soda Copper Ammonia Aqueous Solution 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1964

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. E. Scott
    • 1
    • 2
  • G. Quintarelli
    • 1
    • 2
  • M. C. Dellovo
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.M.R.C. Rheumatism Research UnitCanadian Red Cross Memorial HospitalTaplowEngland
  2. 2.University of Alabama Medical CenterBirminghamUSA

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