The staining mechanisms behind the Warthin-Starry (1920) technique are
complex and often capricious. If the staining problem occurs within the
tissue section only, then it could be attributed to a pigment or contaminant
introduced into the tissue during or after fixation (exogenous) or an
endogenous pigment found within the tissue before fixation. If the pigment or
precipitated contaminant is found lying ontop of the section and peripherally
around the section, overheating or metal contamination could be the cause.
Some probable causes:
1. Slide adhesive from waterbath - Use plus treated slides.
2. Metallic fixative - Lugolize deparaffinized slides.
3. Contaminated glassware - Acid clean all glassware.
4. Metal contamination - Use plastic forceps or metal forceps dipped in
5. Contaminated or precipitated silver stock solution - Filter stock solution
6. Overheated silver solution or developer - Repeat procedure.
Eric C. Kellar
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
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