A rapid and simple staining method, using Toluidine Blue, for analysing mitotic figures in tissue sections

Research paper by Pasquale Chieco, Maura Pagnoni, Eleonora Romagnoli, Cinzia Melchiorri

Indexed on: 01 Aug '93Published on: 01 Aug '93Published in: The Histochemical journal


Mitotic index is a clinically important parameter in cancer pathology. We developed a staining method using Toluidine Blue to detect efficiently and rapidly mitotic figures in sections of formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded human and rat tisues. Sections were stained at acid pH with a 0.01% Toluidine Blue solution after removal of RNA with hydrochloric acid or ribonuclease. The optimal pH of the TB staining solution was found to be 4.5 for rat tissues and 3.5 for human tissues. This procedure stained mitotic figures much more intensely than other (extra)cellular structures. A quantitative estimate of the total number of nuclei in the field where mitotic figures were counted, was obtained in an adjacent section hydrolysed in 5 N hydrochloric acid and stained by the Feulgen reaction with a Schiff-type reagent containing 0.01% Toluidine Blue. This method specifically stained interphase and mitotic nuclei and the field cellularity could be quantified by image cytometry. When these procedures were performed on two consecutive serial sections, a mitotic index could be determined accurately by relating the count of mitotic figures to the number of tumour cells.