Mayer’s Mucihematein
for Mucin

As well as his nuclear staining hemalum variants, Mayer also published an alum hematein solution to demonstrate mucin, termed Mucihematein. This method is now obsolete, but was designed to accentuate the bluish colour of mucins seen with many strong, regressive hemalum formulations.

Ingredient Var I Var II Var III Function
Hematein 0.2 g 1 g 0.2 g Dye
Aluminum chloride 0.1 g 0.5 g 0.1 g Mordant
Distilled water 60 mL     Solvent
Glycerol 40 mL     Stabiliser
Ethanol, 70%   100 mL 100 mL Solvent
Nitric acid   drops 0.05 mL pH control


Compounding procedures

Var I
Grind the hematein with a few drops of the glycerol. Add the aluminum chloride, and mix. Add the glycerol and water, and mix. Test the solution on a positive control (e.g. stomach).

Var II
Make the 70% ethanol from absolute ethanol and tap water. Dissolve the hematein and aluminum chloride in it, and leave for one week. Test the solution on a positive control (e.g. stomach). If too pale add 1 drop of fresh 1% nitric acid and retest. Repeat if necessary, but no more than about 3 drops should be added.

Make the 70% ethanol from 95% ethanol and water. Dissolve the hematein and aluminum chloride in it. Add the nitric acid. Test the solution on a positive control (e.g. stomach).


  1. Bring the sections to water
  2. Place in the staining solution for 10-60 minutes
  3. Wash well with tap water to blue.
  4. Optionally, counterstain with eosin.
  5. Dehydrate with ethanol, clear with xylene and mount with a resinous medium.

Expected results


  1. Var I is from Mallory & Wright.
  2. Var II is from Bensley, who recommended preparing the hematein in house and staining for 5 minutes.
  3. Var III is from Gray.
  4. Bolles-Lee gives the same formula as Mallory & Wright, but notes that 70% ethanol may be used as the solvent, with or without 2 drops of nitric acid.


Bensley R. R. and Bensley, S. H., (1938)
Handbook of Histological and Cytological Technique.
U. Chicago Press, Chicago, USA

Bolles Lee, A.. Edited by Gatenby, J.B. and Beams, H.W., (1950)
The Microtomist's Vade-Mecum. 11 ed.,
Churchill, London, UK.

Gray, Peter. (1954)
The Microtomist's Formulary and Guide.
Originally published by:– The Blakiston Co.
Republished by:– Robert E. Krieger Publishing Co.
    Mayer, (1896)
    Mitteilungen aus der Zoologischen Station zu Neapel, v. 12, p. 303
    Berlin, Germany

Mallory, F. B. & Wright, J.H., (1904)
Pathological technique, Ed.3
W. B. Saunders, Philadelphia, USA.




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