Re: Acetic acid/picric acid in Bouins, fixative

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From:Gayle Callis <>
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Lauren gave the right answers, and this is something people need to think
about, basic info on why additives/mixtures of fixatives are the way they

Acetic acid swells,
Picric acid shrinks,
Formalin does not swell and shrinks minimally

The mixture made so that  one chemical is 'balanced' with the other to
COUNTERACT these inherent problems, to retain a normal morphology.  This is
also true of Carnoys, 
alcohol shrinks, acetic acid swells, and the chloroform (not miscible with
water) removes fat.  

Sorry for a basic fixation lesson, but is was one of the first things
learned over 30 years ago.  There is also an excellent discussion of each
fixative agent in Sheehan and Hrapchaks Theory and Practice of

>Date: Fri, 07 Apr 2000 02:28:10 -0700
>From: "Bro. Lauren Ball" <>
>Subject: Re: Acetic acid !
>To: Gamal Badawy <>,
>Acetic acid by itself causes cells to swell, Picric Acid causes excessive
>shrinkage.  Strongly suggest you leave it in, but feel free to experiment
>with throw away tissue and find out for yourself in your lab's environs.
>----- Original Message -----
>From: Gamal Badawy <>
>To: <>
>Sent: Thursday, April 06, 2000 10:05 AM
>Subject: Acetic acid !
>> Hi,
>> I'm looking for an answer to this question:
>> What is the role of acetic acid in Bouin's fixative and is it
>> essential to be included in the formula for histology?
>> Cheers
>> Gamal
>> ========================================
>> Gamal Badawy
>> Faculty of Science
>> School of Biosciences
>> University of Birmingham
>> B15 2TT      UK
>> E-mail:
>> FAX   : (UK+121)414 5925
>> ========================================
Gayle Callis
Veterinary Molecular Biology
Montana State University
Bozeman MT 59717-3610
406 994-4705
406 994-4303

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