Staining of interphase nuclei and mitotic figures in cultured cells with Alcian blue 8GX

Research paper by A. W. Gustafson, E. Y. Gustafson, W. H. J. Douglas

Indexed on: 01 May '82Published on: 01 May '82Published in: In vitro


Cultured endothelial cells derived from bovine calf pulmonary artery were subjected to a variety of fixatives and stained with 1% Alcian blue 8GX at pH 2.59 to 3.26. Within this range of pH, interphase nuclei and especially mitotic figures were (a) strongly stained in cells fixed with 10% formalin (phosphate buffered or unbuffered) or 2.5% buffered glutaraldehyde, (b) weakly stained or unstained in cells fixed in formaldehyde containing divalent cations, and (c) unstained in cells fixed in acetic acid-containing fluids. However, optimal nuclear staining with Alcian blue under the conditions of this study was judged to be achieved after fixation with neutral phosphate buffered 10% formalin.Endothelial cell cytoplasm exhibited a similar fixative-dependent staining. At pH 2.59 the cytoplasm of interphase cells fixed in formaldehyde (containing no divalent cations) or glutaraldehyde remained unstained; however, at higher pH cytoplasmic staining did occur and it increased as pH increased. In contrast, when these latter fixatives were employed the cytoplasm of mitotic cells stained at all pH levels tested.In cultured endothelial cells after appropriate fixation, 1% Alcian blue 8GX (pH 2.59) was found to possess the ability to stain nuclei with a selectivity and intensity that compared favorably to those of the Feulgen reaction or Heidenhain iron hematoxylin but without the latters’ length and complexity. Therefore, this procedure may provide a rapid, simple, and selective method for visualizing interphase nuclei or mitotic figures, or both in the majority of cultured cells.