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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Troubleshooting Guidance for Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) Stain. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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What are Mordants?

Hematoxylins are typically classified by the mordant used before staining. Mordants strengthen the positive ionic charge of the hematin. This aids the bonding of the hematin to the anionic tissue component, which is most commonly chromatin.
The type of mordant also influences the final color of the stained components. The most common mordant used in routine histology is aluminum ammonium sulfate (alum). This mordant causes the nuclei to be red in color, which is then changed to the more familiar blue color when the sample is later rinsed with a weakly basic solution.