Silver stain

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Silver staining is the use of silver to stain histologic sections. This kind of staining is important especially to show proteins (for example type III collagen) and DNA. It is used to show both substances inside and outside cells. Silver staining is also used in temperature gradient gel electrophoresis and in polyacrylamide gels.

Some cells are argentaffin. These reduce silver solution to metallic silver after formalin fixation. Other cells are argyrophilic. These reduce silver solution to metallic silver after being exposed to the stain that contains a reductant, for example hydroquinone or formalin.

Silver nitrate forms insoluble silver phosphate with phosphate ions. When subjected to a reducing agent, usually hydroquinone, it forms black elementary silver. This is used for study of formation of calcium phosphate particles during bone growth.

Silver staining is used in light microscopy. The metallic silver particles are deposited on sensitised reticulin fibres and are then easily seen in the microscopic preparations.

Silver stain aids in the perception of reticular fibers.

Use in art

Silver staining is also a technique in traditional stained glass to produce the yellow, brown or amber shading when painting on glass. It is a technique that is often used for realistic hair colors. It was discovered in the 14th Century but was not originally used very frequently.

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