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Appropriate Controls for Carbohydrate Staining Methods

Special stain controls are tissue sections that are known to have positive staining reactions with specific special stains. The histologist uses control material to confirm that the stain has worked correctly.  Since special stains for carbohydrates are specific each classification of carbohydrate, control sections should be appropriately selected based on classification component.
 

Special Stain

Carbohydrate Classification Component

Required Control

Alcian blue pH 1.0

  • Acid-sulfated mucins
  • Section of small intestine, appendix, or colon

Alcian blue pH 2.5

  • Acid mucins
  • Section of small intestine, appendix, or colon

Colloidal iron

  • Acid mucins
  • Section of small intestine, appendix, or colon

Mucicarmine

  • Epithelial mucins (glycoproteins)
  • Section of small intestine or colon containing goblet cells

Periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)

  • Simple polysaccharides
  • Kidney is most sensitive
  • Liver should be used when glycogen demonstration is required