The term "carbohydrate" was established over 100 years ago to describe a large group of compounds consisting of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Carbohydrates are among the most abundant bio-molecules on the planet and play an important role in various biological processes. While most people know carbohydrates are a major component of the human diet, many are unaware of the roles carbohydrates play in cellular biology.
Carbohydrates are found on the surface of cells; are stored or are secreted by cells; and are often present in connective tissue. Staining techniques for the detection of carbohydrates is common practice in the histology laboratory. The demonstration of carbohydrates provides valuable information in diagnosing various pathological conditions including benign neoplasms, inflammation, infectious processes, malignancies, as well as liver and renal diseases.