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

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Basophilic and Acidophilic Staining

Synthetic dyes/stains are referred to as either "acid" or "basic". These terms do not describe the hydrogen-ion concentration of the dye solutions, but describe the dye solution's affinity.

Basic - Contains basic groups that have an affinity for acidic tissue elements.

Acidic - Contains acidic groups that have an affinity for basic tissue elements.

Basic stains are used to stain nuclei and other basophilic (base-loving) cellular structures in tissues. Acidic stains are used to stain cytoplasm and other acidophilic (acid-loving) cellular structures in tissues. Many biological staining procedures rely on acid-base chemistry.