HPS Masson stain (was French Stain Acronym)

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To:PATHO-L@listserv.cc.emory.edu, histonet@pathology.swmed.edu
Date:Mon, 20 Sep 1999 15:27:52 EDT
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In a message dated 9/20/99 2:53:04 PM, you wrote:

Robert Pascal at Emory notes, following a query Ed Uthman posted from a 
French translator about what an HPS stain was:

<<The HPS stain is Hematoxylin-Saffron-Phloxine, a trichrome stain, developed 
in Canada (at McGill?), and employing Safran du Gatinais to color collagen 
yellow. We used it as our routine surgical pathology stain at 
Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York for many years. The yellow dye 
[Crocin, Saffron, C.I. 75100] was a natural product, derived from the saffron 
crocus, same as the edible stuff, and was altogether different from the red 
aniline dye safranin [C.I. 50240 and others. It was a beautiful stain and 
took only 10 minutes longer than an H&E. Eventually the cost of the saffron 
became prohibitive, and the H&E returned.>>

(I've corrected some spellings of dye names and added Colour Index numbers.) 
Phloxine B (C.I. 45410) was the other dye used. The hematoxylin was an 
ordinary alum hematoxylin.

The stain was one of several closely related trichrome stains that were 
developed by Pierre Masson, in Montreal I believe, early in this rapidly 
fading century. When I saw it in use at Columbia-Presbyterian in the 
mid-Sixties, it was a truly spectacular stain. I was told that it was still 
in fairly widespread use as a routine surgical pathology stain in New York 
City. The price of saffron, a natural product with no synthetic substitute, 
rose rapidly after that. The cost and the overwhelming medicinal odor of the 
alcohol based saffron extract brought about its demise. A wondrously complex 
stain in the WHO (not AFIP) tumor fascicle for lung tumors was a descendant 
of the HPS stain.

Stains with light-colored (usually green) collagen stains (such as the 
Goldner-Foot Masson stain) were used by some surgical pathology services in 
the 1930's. Chandler Foot probably used this stain routinely at New York 
Hospital in the 1930's. Unfortunately his life's work was destroyed in a 
management disaster in 1960.

I'm going to cross-post this to Histonet with the question: Is anybody out 
there still doing this stain?

Bob Richmond
Samurai Pathologist
Knoxville TN

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