The Histochemical Journal

, Volume 3, Issue 4, pp 261–268 | Cite as

Investigations of dye binding in the sequential staining of mucosaccharides by Alcian Yellow-Alcian Blue. 1. Histochemical experiments on different animal and human mucosaccharides

  • Tapani E. Sorvari
  • Veikko Näntö


It may be assumed that, histochemically, carboxyl groups and sulphate half-ester groups of muco electrolyte concentration of the dye baths in the two steps of a sequential Alcian Yellow-Alcian Blue method. In the present study the specificity and reliability of this method has been investigated.

When the staining conditions were the same in both steps, the second dye (Alcian Blue) was found to stain mucosubstances in spite of the prior staining with Alcian Yellow. Binding of Alcian Blue was observed in all but very dilute Alcian Blue solutions. The degree of Alcian Blue binding depended on the dye concentration and staining time of the second step (Alcian Blue), and it varied widely for different mucosubstances. Although an incomplete saturation of anionic groups with dye molecules in the first step cannot be completely excluded, it is thought that Alcian Blue displaces Alcian Yellow from the carboxyl and sulphate groups of mucosubstances in tissue sections.

It seems that the sequential Alcian Yellow-Alcian Blue method, under the conditions investigated, does not provide a reliable means for differentiating carboxyl and sulphate groups of mucosbstances in tissue sections simultaneously, because the second dye obviously is capable of displacing the first dye from sulphate groups. However, it is possible to distinguish non-sulphated acid mucosaccharides from sulphated mucosaccharides.


Sulphate Carboxyl Tissue Section Anionic Group Electrolyte Concentration 
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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tapani E. Sorvari
    • 1
  • Veikko Näntö
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Pathological Anatomy and Department of Clinical ChemistryUniversity of TurkuFinland

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