A rapid procedure for routine double staining of cartilage and bone in fetal and adult animals

Stain Technol. 1981 Sep;56(5):271-3. doi: 10.3109/10520298109067325.


A simple, rapid procedure for dual staining of cartilage and bone in rodents, particularly in late gestation, has been developed for routine use. The procedure involves rapid, complete skinning of fresh eviscerated specimens following a 30 sec immersion in a 70 C water bath. The unfixed specimen is stained in a mixture of 0.14% Alcian blue and 0.12% alizarin red S in ethanol and glacial acetic acid. Specimens are then macerated in 2% KOH, cleared and hardened in 1:1 glycerin and distilled water, and stored in pure glycerin. Rapid staining of cartilage only is done in a mixture of 0.08% Alcian blue, glacial acetic acid, and ethanol, with subsequent maceration, clearing, and hardening as in the double staining procedure. Rapid staining of bone only, concurrent with maceration of soft tissue, can be done by placing fresh, unskinned specimens in a diluted mixture of alizarin red S in 2% KOH, with subsequent clearing and hardening in 1:1 distilled water and glycerin. Good quality fetal specimens can be prepared for examination by any of these procedures in a minimum of 11/2-2 days as compared to a minimum of 4-5 days for other procedures. Double stained specimens can be examined for abnormalities of the cartilage as well as bone.

MeSH terms

  • Alcian Blue
  • Animals
  • Anthraquinones
  • Bone and Bones / cytology*
  • Cartilage / cytology*
  • Fetus / cytology*
  • Mice
  • Rats
  • Staining and Labeling / methods*


  • Anthraquinones
  • Alizarin Red S
  • Alcian Blue