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The page below is a sample from the LabCE course Histology Special Stains: Carbohydrates. Access the complete course and earn ASCLS P.A.C.E.-approved continuing education credits by subscribing online.

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Goblet cells; mucicarmine stain

Mucicarmine: Chemistry

The rose red dye in the mucicarmine staining solution gets its color from the aluminum-carminic acid complex carmine. This carminic acid is extracted from the dried bodies of female cochineal  insects know as Coccus cacti.

While the exact chemistry of this staining technique is still unknown, researchers believe that the aluminum salts in the solution form a complex with the carminic acid. This positively charged complex then goes on to attract and bind with acid mucins in the tissue sample.

Weigert's iron hematoxylin is employed to stain nuclei black while the remaining background tissue elements are stained yellow with metanil yellow or tartrazine.