Colloidal Iron

Author: Kelsey Goldman, HTL (ASCP)

Last Update: 24 August 2023

Copyright: 2023,

Cite this Page! -> Goldman, Kelsey. “Colloidal Iron.” HistologyOutlines.Com, 11 July 2023. Accessed (today) 

Special Stain

  •  This stain is used for the detection of acid mucopolysaccharides through the interaction of the acidic mucin substances with acidic ferric chloride (Suvarna et al.).
Control Tissues: Staining Pattern:
  • Acid Mucins= Bright Blue (Suvarna et al.)
Biochemistry Theory:
  • The overall goal of this protocol is to highlight only the acidic mucopolysaccharides in the tissue. This is accomplished by creating an environment of ferric ions that have an attraction to the negatively charged substances within the tissue. The introduction of potassium ferrocyanide then causes a “Prussian Blue” reaction that leads to the ferric ions that are bound to the acidic mucopolysaccarides to turn blue. This procedure is often completed with a PAS in the same section so that the other muco-substances turn magenta (Suvarna et al.)
Additonal Sources  
  • Colloidal Iron: Chemistry – LabCE.Com, Laboratory Continuing Education. Accessed 16 Aug. 2023.
  • “Colloidal Iron, Multi-Tissue Histology Slides.” Newcomer Supply, Accessed 24 Aug. 2023.
  • Kumar, George. Special Stain and H & E Education Guide. Second, Dako.
  • Suvarna, S. Kim, et al., editors. Bancroft’s Theory and Practice of Histological Techniques. Eighth edition, Elsevier, 2019.
  • Tickoo, Satish K., et al. “Colloidal Iron Staining in Renal Epithelial Neoplasms, Including Chromophobe Renal Cell Carcinoma: Emphasis on Technique and Patterns of Staining.” The American Journal of Surgical Pathology, vol. 22, no. 4, 1998, pp. 419–24,
Sample Protocol: