Basic Histology -- Cells and Fibers Next Home

Organs are composed of cells lying within an intercellular matrix of solid fibers and gelatinous or liquid ground substance. The cells produce and maintain their intercellular matrix, which in turn provides physical support and protection and a pathway for diffusion to and from the cells themselves.

The standard tissue stain is composed of hematoxylin and eosin.

Don't be upset if the various recipes for "H&E" do not always produce exactly the same colors. Try to understand what you are seeing.

Nuclei will always stain blue with the hematoxylin. The cytoplasm of cells will stain according to its composition. The strong supporting proteins around the cells will stain pink, and you will be able to see their texture. In all but the most regular of tissues, between the fibers will be looser areas where there is a proponderance of ground substance. It is composed of mucopolysaccharide plus complex carbohydrates. The protein component of the mucopolysaccharide usually imparts a weak pink color.

This is fibrocartilage from an intervertebral disk. The collagen fibers give strength and shape, while the abundant ground substance between them makes the disk springy and resiliant. Advanced students: Don't expect to see any blood vessels.

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