These are two examples of Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) staining. The image at left is a piece of cardiac muscle, and that on the right is a bit of kidney tissue. Both are shown at medium magnification, about 300x.
H&E is without doubt the most common stain used in histology. Well over 90% of the slides you'll look at in your life will be stained with it. It's actually a combination of two dyes: the basic dye hematoxylin, and the alcohol-based synthetic material, eosin. H&E is a structural stain, primarily giving you morphological information. The appearance of a tissue in H&E is what we've come to regard as it's "actual" or "normal" or "real" one, and we use it as a basis for comparison when special stains are applied to reveal some other aspect of the tissue's structure or chemistry. The staining reaction is clearly stronger in some parts of the tissue and cells than in others, allowing identification of the details.
In fact, the fundamental chemical nature of both hematoxylin and eosin does allow some interpretation of the tissue's chemical makeup. In an H&E stain you'll usually see both eosinophilia and basophilia: the nuclei of cells basophilic, while eosinophilia is typical of cytoplasmic constituents. In the image of the kidney you'll see large areas of bright eosinophilia: these are blood vessels, packed with erythrocytes. Smaller ones are visible in the heart muscle as well.
| H&E | PAS | Masson's CT Stain | Verhoeff-van Gieson | Verhoeff-Masson | Mallory's CT Stain | Golgi Stain|
| Cresyl Violet | Cresyl Violet-Luxol Fast Blue | Kluver-Barrera | Fontana-Masson | Prussian Blue | Toluidine Blue|
|Osmium Tetroxide | Oil Red O | Sudan Black | Fluorescent & Enzymatic Tagging |
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