The Histochemical Journal

, Volume 12, Issue 5, pp 565–575 | Cite as

Effects of strong electrolytes on the iron alum-Alcian Blue-Safranin staining of mast cell granules of the rat

  • Kenji Miyata
  • Kenichi Takaya


Rat mast cells fixed in Carnoy's fluid were stained with iron alum-Alcian Blue-Safranin solution after pre-treatment with strong electrolyte solutions including acids, neutral salts and alkalis. Although both red and blue mast cells were observed without pre-treatment, most mast cells were stained blue and a few red when they were stained after the pre-treatment. Mast cell granules contain salt complexes formed between basic proteins and acidic polysaccharides through ionic linkages between protein basic groups and polysaccharide sulphate and carboxylic acid groups. It is suggested that when sections are treated with strong electrolyte solutions, complexes are broken by disruption of ionic linkages and sulphate and carboxylic acid groups of polysaccharides masked by basic proteins become available for binding Alcian Blue. This was confirmed by model experiments performed with smears of a heparin-lysozyme complex.

When mast cells were fixed in aldehyde-containing fixatives, no effects of strong electrolyte solutions on the staining properties of mast cell granules were revealed.


Iron Polysaccharide Mast Cell Carboxylic Acid Basic Protein 
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Copyright information

© Chapman and Hall Ltd 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenji Miyata
    • 1
  • Kenichi Takaya
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AnatomyToyama Medical and Pharmaceutical University, Faculty of MedicineToyamaJapan

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