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Histology Made Simple: An Easy Guide for Bioscientists

The Histology Guide for Researchers

If you study the structure and function of cells, tissues, or organs, your research will likely involve histology.

We have compiled helpful tips, tricks, and how-to guides written by researchers with hands-on experience in histology basics to help you get started or improve your histology skills.

We take you through the various stages of sample prep and the must-have items to get the job done, and provide insight into the various stains for histology and when to use them.

Your Complete Histology How-To
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    Histology Basics

    How to Get Started with Histology Basics

    If you’re new to the world of histology, or still getting up to speed, you’ve come to the right place. In this section, we’ll give you the knowledge to help get you on your way to producing fantastic histology results. 

    Here, you’ll discover the history of histology, learn the pitfalls to avoid when performing your experiments, and even learn about the simple pleasures histology can provide.

    A bookshelf of old books to represent the history of histology

    A (very) Short History of Histology

    Discover the history of histology, from the first mention of a cell in 1665 to the identification and development of various stains.

    Image of a girl surround by traps to represent avoiding histology mistakes

    Avoid These Pitfalls: Seven (Not So Deadly) Histology Sins

    Discover seven common histology mistakes and how you can avoid making them when performing your experiments.

    A multicoloured marble-effect background created with paint to represent immunohistochemistry basics

    Getting Started with Immunohistochemistry

    Immunohistochemistry isn’t just a useful clinical tool, it also has great applications as a basic research tool. We’ll walk you through the immunohistochemistry basics to get you off to a flying start.

    Image showsing some of the tools required for histology slide preparation

    How Histology Slides are Prepared

    Ever wondered what magic happens to turn your samples into histology slides? Find out the 5 simple steps for histology slide preparation.

    Image of melted was representing some of the simple histology pleasures

    Five Tiny Histology Pleasures

    Histology offers some simple yet fulfilling moments. Find out our top 5 simple histology pleasures and see if you agree!

    Sample Prep

    How to Prepare Your Histology Tissue Samples

    Histology tissue sample preparation involves multiple critical steps, from fixing and embedding to sectioning. Getting your sample preparation right is key to success with histology.

    Here we show you the different sample preparation techniques you can use, and top tips and tricks for becoming a master.

    Image of a mechanic thinking before fixing a car to represent thinking before performing histology fixation

    An Introduction To Fixation For Histology: Think Before You Fix!

    How you fix your tissue or cells can affect your results, for better or for worse. Discover the key points to think about before undertaking your histology fixation.

    Image of histology slides to represent tissue processing for histology

    Tissue Processing For Histology: What Exactly Happens?

    Tissue processing for histology is a key step between fixation and embedding. We take you through the steps of tissue processing in this simple guide.

    Image of a cold person to represent the very cold environment of cryosectioning

    Can You Stand the Cold? Cryosectioning for Beginners

    Cryosectioning is difficult when your tissues melt, fold, curl, wrinkle, tear, or crack. Learn how to troubleshoot these pesky cryosectioning problems.

    Image of a paraffin lamp to represent paraffin alternatives to tissue embedding in histology

    Alternatives to Paraffin: Cryo and Resin Embedding for Histology

    Looking for paraffin alternatives for tissue embedding? Find out the benefits of cryo and resin tissue embedding and how they work.

    Image of a child looking puzzled at a microscope to represent uncertainty as to what histology fixatives are doing to samples.

    Histology Fixatives: What Do They Actually Do To Your Samples?

    Do you know what your histology fixatives are really doing to your samples? Read on to learn what happens to tissue treated with two common fixatives.

    Troubleshooting

    Helpful Hints for When Histology Goes Wrong

    Whether you’re just beginning your journey or you’re a histology master, sometimes things just go wrong. 

    If you find yourself with problems during sample prep or your stainings don't look right, don’t panic! Our troubleshooting articles will help you figure out what’s gone wrong with your histology and tell you how to fix it. Even if you’re lucky enough to have never had a problem, our tips can help you keep that winning streak going.

    Image of a lumberjack cutting a tree to represent tissue sectioning tips

    Advanced Sectioning Techniques: How to Section Difficult Tissues

    Are you having problems with tissue sectioning? Follow these 10 tissue sectioning tips to create the perfect tissue section every time without stressing out.

    Man holsing a paintbrush with paint all up the wall to represent troubleshooting histochemistry when things go wrong

    Troubleshooting Immunohistochemistry

    If your immunohistochemistry is not working quite as expected, don’t fret. Check out this comprehensive guide to troubleshooting immunohistochemistry.

    Histology Applied

    Techniques and Tips for Specific Applications

    Ready to be inspired? We’ve curated the top articles showcasing the various powerful and innovative ways histology can be used in research, from finding fungi to multiplexing your tissue probing.

    Not only do these articles highlight the various ways you can use histology, they provide helpful hints to get you using these techniques in your lab.

    Histology Hub

    Verhoeff-van Gieson Stain: A Special Histology Stain for Elastic Fibers

    If you want to visualize elastic fibers in your sample, you need to use Verhoeff-van Gieson stain. Find out more about this stain, including how to use it.

    Image of glow sticks to represent Fluorescent Tyramides In Histology

    Fluorescent Tyramides In Histology: A Versatile Approach For Multiplex Molecular Tissue Probing

    Fluorescent tyramides offer exquisite sensitivity, are easy to use, and are versatile. Find out how to use them to brighten up your research.

    Image of a red powder to represent the color of congo red stain

    Congo Red – A Special Stain For Alzheimer’s Disease

    Discover interesting facts about Congo red and it can help us understand Alzheimer’s disease.

    Image of bacteria to represent how to detect bacteria with acid-fast stain

    Acid Fast: A Histology Tool To Detect Bacteria and TB

    Acid-fast stain (AF) is a special staining technique used in the histology lab. Discover which bacteria this stain detects, the history behind it, and how it works.

    Image of Fungi representing fungi detection with Gomori’s methenamine silver stain

    How To Find Fungi In Your Histology Samples- Go For GMS!

    Gomori’s methenamine silver is a special histology stain for detecting fungi. Find out how and why you might want to use this stain in the lab.

    Image of a young man showing his back to highlight how periodic acid Schiff stains polysaccharides such as glycogen

    Why Pick PAS for Histology?

    Periodic acid-Schiff (PAS) is a commonly used special stain in the histology lab. Find out more about what this stain detects and how to use it.

    Most Recent

    Stay up to Date with the Most Recent Histology Articles

    Image of a mechanic thinking before fixing a car to represent thinking before performing histology fixation

    An Introduction To Fixation For Histology: Think Before You Fix!

    How you fix your tissue or cells can affect your results, for better or for worse. Discover the key points to think about before undertaking your histology fixation.

    A bookshelf of old books to represent the history of histology

    A (very) Short History of Histology

    Discover the history of histology, from the first mention of a cell in 1665 to the identification and development of various stains.

    Image of a girl surround by traps to represent avoiding histology mistakes

    Avoid These Pitfalls: Seven (Not So Deadly) Histology Sins

    Discover seven common histology mistakes and how you can avoid making them when performing your experiments.

    Image showsing some of the tools required for histology slide preparation

    How Histology Slides are Prepared

    Ever wondered what magic happens to turn your samples into histology slides? Find out the 5 simple steps for histology slide preparation.

    Image of histology slides to represent tissue processing for histology

    Tissue Processing For Histology: What Exactly Happens?

    Tissue processing for histology is a key step between fixation and embedding. We take you through the steps of tissue processing in this simple guide.

    Kalidascopic image as a play on word for RNAscope

    New-ISH on the Block: Introduction to RNAscope®

    RNAscope is a new method of quantitative RNA in situ-hybridization that has taken laboratories by storm. Learn advantages over traditional techniques and how RNAscope works in this introduction article.

    Artistic colorful stains to depict different stains used in histology

    The A to Z of Histological Stains

    From Alkaline phosphatase to Warthin-Starry, we take you through the various histology stains available.

    Image of samples for scanning electron microscopy to highlight the need ofr careful sample prep

    Sample Preparation for Scanning Electron Microscopy

    Discover 6 critical scanning electron microscopy sample preparation points you need to know to get the best out of your SEM.

    Histology Stains

    Common Histology Stains and How to Use Them

    There are an overwhelming number of stains for histology. In this section, we provide details on some of the most commonly used stains, how and when to use them, and tips for getting your staining just right.

    Artistic colorful stains to depict different stains used in histology

    The A to Z of Histological Stains

    From Alkaline phosphatase to Warthin-Starry, we take you through the various histology stains available.

    Blue watercolor painting with bubbles mimicking toluidine blue stain

    Toluidine Blue – A Histology Stain for Mast Cells (and Other Things!)

    Discover the magic of toluidine blue – a polychromatic dye that changes color depending on which tissue component it is staining.

    Image of colorful stains highlighting the various special stains for histology

    Special Stains for Histology: An Introduction and Basic Overview

    Get introduced to some of the special stains for histology and learn some top tips for getting great results.

    Image of an iron as a pun of how prussian blue detects iron in samples

    Prussian Blue- A Histology Stain For Iron

    Want to detect iron in your samples? You need Prussian blue! Discover the incredible sensitivity of this stain and how to use it.

    Image of a red powder to represent the color of congo red stain

    Congo Red – A Special Stain For Alzheimer’s Disease

    Discover interesting facts about Congo red and it can help us understand Alzheimer’s disease.

    Immunohistochemistry

    Tips and Tricks for Performing Immunohistochemistry

    Whether you’re wondering what immunohistochemistry is, how to get started with this powerful technique, or need some tips and tricks to improve your images, our articles can help.

    Discover ways to unmask your antigen, block non-specific staining, and learn the key controls you need to properly interpret your results.

    Histology Hub

    Controls for Immunofluorescence: A Beginner’s Guide 

    Achieving publication-quality immunofluorescence images can get tricky and it’s therefore important to ensure you have the right controls for immunofluorescence.

    Image of stars to highlight how to get stellar IHC staining

    How to Obtain Stellar Staining with Fluorescent IHC

    If you want the kind of fluorescent IHC images worth those extra color publication charges, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for tips and tricks to getting stellar IHC staining.

    Image of molecules to represent using polymers as secondary antibodies

    Polymers as Secondary Antibodies for Immunohistochemistry

    Do you use biotinylated secondary antibodies in your immunohistochemistry? You could use polymers instead. They are a great time-saving reagent.

    Histology Hub

    Immunohistochemistry: Getting The Stain You Want

    Need a simple, error-proof protocol for using immunohistochemistry to stain your slides? Here’s a protocol to try – from dewaxing to mounting.

    Imgae of hand choosing between different colors, representing the differnet choices of counterstains for immunohistochemistry

    Counterstaining for Immunohistochemistry: Choices, Choices…

    Counterstaining can have a big impact on your histology result. This short guide will introduce you to some available counterstains providing you with a few more choices.

    Image of pouring milk as it can be used for blocking non-specific staining

    Immunohistochemistry Basics: Blocking Non-Specific Staining

    Achieving a good immunohistochemistry signal-to-noise ratio involves many factors, including a good blocking protocol. Read on to learn about blocking non-specific staining in IHC.

    image of masks to represent unmasking antigens

    Antigen Retrieval Techniques For Immunohistochemistry: Unmask That Antigen!

    Did you know fixation can mask antigen sites in your sample? Discover how you can unmask them and get your signal back on track!

    Glossary

    A–Z of Common Histology terms

    Bovine serum albumin. A common blocking agent for immunohistochemistry experiments.

    3,3-Diaminobenzidine. A chromogen commonly used in immunohistochemistry. It is derived from benzene that forms a brown precipitate when oxidized in a reaction catalyzed by HRP.

    Formalin Fixed Paraffin is a method where tissues are fixed with formalin before being embedded in paraffin. The embedded tissue blocks are then sliced before use.

    Fluorescence In Situ Hybridization is a staining technique using fluorescent probes that bind only to specific DNA sequences. It is used to detect specific DNA sequences on chromosomes.

    Hematoxylin and Eosin stain. This is a combination of two stains: hematoxylin – a basic, dark blue or purplish stain that colours cell nuclei – and eosin – an acidic red or pink stain that colours the extracellular matrix and cytoplasm.

    Horseradish peroxidase. This enzyme catalyzes the conversion of chemiluminescent substrates, providing a visual way to detect cellular targets.

    Immunohistochemistry. This technique uses antibodies to identify the presence of specific antigens in a tissue.

    Periodic-Acid Schiff. A staining technique used to detect the presence of carbohydrates.

    Paraformaldehyde. A commonly used fixative in histology.

    Got a Question or a Suggestion?

    Didn't find what you were looking for? Or perhaps you have some tips and tricks on histology basics that we haven't covered here? Get in touch and let us know so we can continue to improve the information we share!

    Contact us here.

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