Stevenel's Blue, an excellent stain for optical microscopical study of plastic embedded tissues

Microsc Acta. 1980 May;83(2):117-21.


Stevenel's Blue is a reliable, rapid, and clean, one-step polychromatic stain for 1 micron thick epoxy sections. The staining solution, originally used by L. Stevenel (1918) to stain human parasites, is made by adding diluted potassium permanganate (2%) to an aqueous solution of the methylene blue (1.3%) and redissolving the precipitate thoroughly, by boiling in water bath and filtering. Staining is carried out in a Coplin jar at 60 degrees C for approximately 10 minutes for tissues embedded in Epon 812 or Poly 812, or 20 minutes for tissues embedded in Spurr's medium. The sections are rinsed, air dried, and mouted in Permount. The staining solution is very stable, and does not tend to form precipitates on the tissue. The stain brings excellent histological differentiation to nuclear, cytoplasmic, and extracellular components. Incorporation of the stain by elements within each tissue varies from intense to light with a subtle gradation of intermediate shades of purple and blue tones. For most cell structures the density of the stain parallels the electron density of that structure as seen under the electron microscope. For example, nucleoli and heterochromatin stain in dark purple while euterochromatin appear in a light blue shade. In all cases, the embedding media remains unstained. The bond between Stevenel's Blue and the tissues is stable, remaining unaltered by the mounting medium. It is also resistant to time-fading.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Nucleolus / analysis
  • Chromatin / analysis
  • Cytological Techniques*
  • Cytoplasm / analysis
  • Heterochromatin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*


  • Chromatin
  • Heterochromatin