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Special Staining Services

Images of Special Staining

VitroVivo Special Staining Services 

Special stains traditionally refer to any staining other than an H&E. It covers a wide variety of methods that may be used to visualize particular tissue structures, elements, or even micro-organisms not identified by H&E staining.

Other methods of staining such as immunohistochemistry or in situ hybridization used to target specific proteins or DNA/RNA sequences may be included as members of the “special stains”. However, since they are quite different in method and purpose, they could be separated into a third category know as “advanced stains”.

There can be hundreds of special stains for different purposes, but only a few are regularly used for research or clinical needs. Unlike H&E staining, special staining, due to their complexity, may have to be carried out by hands.

In contrast to “routine” stain services, special stains are used to differentiate specific components seen in the H&E-stained section. It is the application of various dyes to tissue sections prepared on a microscope slide. Special staining can be applied to highlight specific tissue components, microbes, metals, salts, and other artifacts.

VitroVivo offers the following special staining services with standard protocols:

  • Mammary gland whole mount staining
  • Alcian blue hematoxylin/orange G staining
  • Oil Red O staining
  • Modified Gomori’s trichrome staining
  • Bielschowsky’s silver staining
  • Masson’s trichrome staining
  • ​Picro-sirius red staining
  • Reticulum staining, and
  • More custom services as per specific request. Please send your email for inquiry to:
  • VitroVivo has special stain kits available for the staining by yourself.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

FAQ 1. What is a special stain?

Any stain, other than an H&E stain, is classified as a special stain. The common special stains include mammary gland whole mount stain, alcian blue hematoxylin-orange G stain, alcian blue stain, alcian blue – PAS stain, oil red O stain, Nissl stain, Bielschowsky’s silver stain and Masson’s trichrome stain, etc. For more information, please visit our website page of Histochemical Stain Kits and Image Gallery.

FAQ 2. How do I choose VitroVivo special staining services?

This table gives you a guidance of the choice of special staining methods or kits (if you want to perform staining by your self). If you can not find the staining methods from this table, please send your email to for inquiry, our service team will get back to you as soon as possible.

Product Name SKU# Visualization for Typical Results
Hematoxylin and Eosin Kit VB-3000 General morphology of tissue and cell
  • Sharp blue nucleus and red cytoplasm staining
Mammary Gland Whole Mount Stain Kit VB-3001 Wholemount staining of mouse mammary glands
  • Mouse mammary glands stain red
Alcian Blue Hematoxylin-Orange G Stain Kit VB-3002 Differentiate cartilage, mature bone, and immature bone found in various stages of endochondral ossification and fracture callus​
  1.  Bone:  orange to red
  2. Activated osteocytes:  bright blue pericellular ring
  3. Growth plate:  pale blue to blue
  4. Cartilage:  blue/purple (GAG/proteoglycan)
  5. Erythrocytes: bright pink
  6. Soft tissues (muscle, tendon, membranes):  pink to red
  7. Bone marrow:  dark blue
Alcian Blue Stain Kit VB-3003 Tisssue mucosubstances    
  1. Strongly acidic sulfated mucosubstances: blue
  2. Nuclei: pink to red
  3. Cytoplasm: pale pink
PAS Stain Kit VB-3004 Glycogen, mucin, and fungi
  1. Glycogen, mucin and some basement membranes: red/purple
  2. Fungi: red/purple
  3. Background: blue
Alcian Blue – PAS Stain Kit VB-3005 Acidic and neutral mucins as well as mixtures of acidic and neutral mucins
  1. Acidic mucins: blue
  2. Neutral mucins: magenta
  3. mixtures of above:blue/purple
  4. nuclei: deep blue
Luxol Fast Blue Stain Kit VB-3006 Myelin including phospholipids and neurons
  1. Myelin including phospholipids: blue to green
  2. Neuron: pink to violet
Oil Red O Stain Kit VB-3007 lipid and fat staining on formalin fixed frozen sections
  1. Lipid: red
  2. Nuclei:blue
Alizarin Red Stain Kit VB-3008 Calcium on tissue sections
  • Calcium deposits: orange-red
Prussian Blue Stain Kit VB-3009 Ferric iron on tissue sections
  1. Iron (hemosiderin): blue
  2. Nuclei: red
  3. Background: pink
Nissl Stain Kit VB-3010 Neuron Nissl body
  • Neuron (Nissl body):pink-violet
Congo Red Amyloid Stain Kit VB-3011 Amyloid deposits
  1. Amyloid, elastic fibers, eosinophil granules: red
  2. Nuclei: blue
Sudan Black B Lipid Stain Kit VB-3012 Lipid and fat
  1. Fat: blue or black
  2. Nuclei: red
Toluidine Blue Stain Kit VB-3013 Mast cells
  1. Mast cells: violet/red purple
  2. Background: blue
Modified Gomori’s Trichrome Stain Kit VB-3014 Connective fiber
  1. Nuclei: dark blue
  2. Muscle myofibrils: green-blue
  3. Mitochondria and endoplasmic reticulum stain: red
  4. Connective tissue stains: pale green-blue
  5. Myelin stains: purple red
  6. Type 1 fibers stain: darker blue/green as compared to type 2 fibers
Bielschowsky’s Silver Stain Kit VB-3015 Axons, neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques
  1. Axons, neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques: black
  2. Background: yellow to brown
Masson’s Trichrome Stain Kit VB-3016 Collagen and mucus
  1. Cytoplasm, keratin, muscle fibers, Erythrocytes:red
  2. Nuclei: black
  3. Collagen and mucus: blue
Picro-Sirius Red Stain Kit VB-3017 Collagen fibers
  1. Collagen: red
  2. Muscle Fibers: yellow
  3. Cytoplasm: yellow
Reticulum Stain Kit VB-3018 Reticular fibers
  1. Reticular fibers:black
  2. Nuclei: red
Verhoeff Van Gieson Elastin Stain Kit VB-3019 Elastic fibers
  1. Elastic fibers: blue-black to black
  2. Nuclei: blue to black
  3. Collagen: red
  4. Other tissue elements: yellow
Fontana-Masson Stain Kit VB-3020 Melanin pigment and argentaffin granules
  1. Melanin and argentaffin granules: Brown to black.
  2. Nuclei: Pink