Re: iron and formalin

From:Barry Rittman <>

I think that the original rationale for using non formalin fixatives for
iron containing tissues was that the formalin solutions used at that
time were acidic and therefore some iron was lost.
If you use an appropriately buffered formalin mixture you should not
have any problems.
Technically of course, you should not be using steel knives to cut the
sections, as pointed out by Gutav Mann in his histology text of 1902.

Chastity Diane Shaffer Whitaker wrote:

>  Hello.  I am not a histochemist in any way, shape, nor form and so
> that is why I am soliciting the advise of this list -- that and
> because I could not find my answer in your archives.
> I am a graduate student doing work in MRI looking at affects of iron.
> In one of the articles I have read, it explains that use of formalin
> based fixation solutions may cause iron to come out of the
> cells/organelles/etc.  This was in reference to the amount of iron
> that could be detected by Perls' Stain, but if it is true, then the
> loss of iron would affect my results as well.  I have noticed some
> groups use methacarn rather than formalin for histochemical
> procedures.  Are there any suggestions, articles for reference, or
> experience in this area that someone would like to share???
> Thanks in advance for all help provided.
>                    Chastity Diane Shaffer Whitaker
>                      Biophysics Graduate Student
>                       The Ohio State University
> -----------------------------------------------------------------------
>                          Pager: 614.220.7218
>                   aim nickname: "MattChasWhitaker"
>      "My will shall shape my future.  Whether I fail or succeed
>   shall be no man's doing but my own.  I am the force; I can clear
>  any obstacle before me or I can be lost in the maze.  My choice; my
>   responsibility; win or lose, only I hold the key to my destiny."
>                             Elaine Maxwell

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