Acetone

Please read this explanation about safe working with acetone and cleanup of spills.

Wikipedia has an article about acetone.

PropertyData
ChemicalAcetone
Synonyms 
Formula(CH3)2CO
StateColourless fluid
ConcentrationAbsolute
Fixation timeA few hours
AdditiveNo
CoagulantYes
HardensYes
Acid dyesNeutral
Basic dyesNeutral
AftertreatmentNone

How it fixes
Acetone is a non-additive precipitant fixative. It fixes proteins by dehydration and precipitation, and is almost always used alone and without dilution, often at 4°C for preservation of enzymes in paraffin sections.

Carbohydrates
These are not specifically fixed.

Lipids
Lipids are not preserved and some may be dissolved.

Morphology
Nuclear preservation is reasonable but both intracellular and extracellular preservation is poor, there may be vacuoles present and some constituents are destroyed. There may be considerable shrinkage overall. Acetone is not recommended as a morphological fixative. Its use should be reserved for fixation of tissue when enzymes are to be preserved in rapid paraffin processing.

Time
For enzyme preservation, overnight at 4°C is usual. In the extremely unlikely event that histological fixation is required in acetone, several hours at room temperature for a 3 mm thick piece of tissue should be satisfactory.

Simple solution
Acetone is rarely used as a morphological fixative because of its poor preservation, shrinkage and hardening effects. It has more use as a cold temperature fixative for enzyme preservation.

Acetone is sometimes used as a dehydrant instead of ethanol. It is quite efficient at this, although more inflammable than ethanol. It can cause the same parched earth artifact that ethanol causes if tissue is inadequately fixed before dehydration.

Aftertreatment
No particular aftertreatment is needed. Tissues are either transferred to cold ethanol and xylene, then into wax, or directly to low melting point wax. Since acetone is a dehydrant, the tissue should not be transferred to water.

Reference
Culling, C.F.A., (1974)
Handbook of histopathological and histochemical techniques, 3rd ed.
Butterworths, London. pp. 43.

Burstone, M. S., (1962)
Enzyme histochemistry and its application to the study of neoplasms.
Academic Press, New York & London. pp. 23

 


 

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