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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 NameSKU#Visualization forTypical Results
Hematoxylin and Eosin KitVB-3000General morphology of tissue and cell
  • Sharp blue nucleus and red cytoplasm staining
Mammary Gland Whole Mount Stain KitVB-3001Wholemount staining of mouse mammary glands
  • Mouse mammary glands stain red
Alcian Blue Hematoxylin-Orange G Stain KitVB-3002Differentiate 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 KitVB-3003Tisssue mucosubstances    
  1. Strongly acidic sulfated mucosubstances: blue
  2. Nuclei: pink to red
  3. Cytoplasm: pale pink
PAS Stain KitVB-3004Glycogen, mucin, and fungi
  1. Glycogen, mucin and some basement membranes: red/purple
  2. Fungi: red/purple
  3. Background: blue
Alcian Blue – PAS Stain KitVB-3005Acidic 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 KitVB-3006Myelin including phospholipids and neurons
  1. Myelin including phospholipids: blue to green
  2. Neuron: pink to violet
Oil Red O Stain KitVB-3007lipid and fat staining on formalin fixed frozen sections
  1. Lipid: red
  2. Nuclei:blue
Alizarin Red Stain KitVB-3008Calcium on tissue sections
  • Calcium deposits: orange-red
Prussian Blue Stain KitVB-3009Ferric iron on tissue sections
  1. Iron (hemosiderin): blue
  2. Nuclei: red
  3. Background: pink
Nissl Stain KitVB-3010Neuron Nissl body
  • Neuron (Nissl body):pink-violet
Congo Red Amyloid Stain KitVB-3011Amyloid deposits
  1. Amyloid, elastic fibers, eosinophil granules: red
  2. Nuclei: blue
Sudan Black B Lipid Stain KitVB-3012Lipid and fat
  1. Fat: blue or black
  2. Nuclei: red
Toluidine Blue Stain KitVB-3013Mast cells
  1. Mast cells: violet/red purple
  2. Background: blue
Modified Gomori’s Trichrome Stain KitVB-3014Connective 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 KitVB-3015Axons, neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques
  1. Axons, neurofibrillary tangles and senile plaques: black
  2. Background: yellow to brown
Masson’s Trichrome Stain KitVB-3016Collagen and mucus
  1. Cytoplasm, keratin, muscle fibers, Erythrocytes:red
  2. Nuclei: black
  3. Collagen and mucus: blue
Picro-Sirius Red Stain KitVB-3017Collagen fibers
  1. Collagen: red
  2. Muscle Fibers: yellow
  3. Cytoplasm: yellow
Reticulum Stain KitVB-3018Reticular fibers
  1. Reticular fibers:black
  2. Nuclei: red
Verhoeff Van Gieson Elastin Stain KitVB-3019Elastic fibers
  1. Elastic fibers: blue-black to black
  2. Nuclei: blue to black
  3. Collagen: red
  4. Other tissue elements: yellow
Fontana-Masson Stain KitVB-3020Melanin pigment and argentaffin granules
  1. Melanin and argentaffin granules: Brown to black.
  2. Nuclei: Pink