Table 1

Staining techniques useful in the practice of neuropathology

Cell or substance to be identifiedStainResult
PAS, periodic acid Schiff; PTAH, phosphotungstic acid haematoxylin.
Nerve cellsNissl stain (cresyl violet)Purple to dark blue
Bielschowsky
AxonsPalmgrenBrown/black
Marsland, Glees, and EriksonDark brown/black
Schofield: recommended for muscle and other peripheral tissues. Particularly useful for nerve endingsDark brown
MyelinLuxol fast blue: useful when combined with Nissl stain (Kl├╝ver-Berrera)Myelin stained blue/green
Solochrome cyaninMyelin stained blue
Gomori trichrome stain useful in peripheral nervesMyelin stained red and connective tissue stained blue
Osmic acid is useful in the Marchi technique for degenerating myelin and in staining teased nerve fibre preparationsDegenerate myelin stained black and normal myelin stained light brown/brown
Glial fibresHolzerBlue
PTAHDark blue
Cajal's gold sublimateDeep purple
Senile plaques and neurofibrillary tanglesGallyas for neurofibrillary tanglesNeurofibrillary tangles and plaque neurites stained black
Haga methenemine silver for plaquesAmyloid plaques stained black, some tangles stained black (rare)
Modified Bielschowsky for plaques and tanglesTangles and plaques stained black
Thioflavine-S for plaques and tanglesTangles and plaques fluorescent under the fluorescent microscope
Inclusion bodiesLendrum's phloxine tartrazineViral inclusion bodies stained bright red. Beware red cells that stain orange/red
MelaninMasson-FontanaBlack
FatOil red O: requires frozen sections but works on formaldehyde fixed tissueRed
Yeasts and fungiPASMagenta
GrocottBlack
Oligodendroglia and microgliaWeil and DavenportBlack