A modified Verhoeff-van Gieson elastin histochemical stain to enable pulmonary arterial hypertension model characterization

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K.R. Percival *
Z. A. Radi
(*) Corresponding Author:
K.R. Percival | karen.percival@pfizer.com


Optimal histochemical staining is critical to ensure excellent quality stained sections to enable light microscopic and histomorphometric image analysis.  Verhoeff-van Gieson is the most widely used histochemical stain for the visualization of vascular elastic fibers. However, it is notoriously difficult to differentiate fine elastic fibers of small vasculature to enable histomorphometric image analysis of vasculature size characterization especially in organs such as the lung. A tissue fixation regime of 10% neutral buffered formalin with subsequent fixation in 70% ethanol further compounds the problem of small vessel staining and identification.  Therefore, a modified Verhoeff's elastin stain was developed as a reliable method to optimally highlight the internal and external elastic lamina of small arteries (50-100 µm) and intra-acinar vessels (10-50 µm) in 3 µm thick lung tissue sections from models of pulmonary arterial hypertension.  This modified Verhoeff's elastin stain demonstrated optimal staining of fine elastic fibers of pulmonary blood vessels. As a result, high-quality histomorphometric image analysis evaluation of vessel wall thickness in small arteries and intra-acinar vessels was successfully accomplished.  In conclusion, modification of the standard Verhoeff-van Gieson histochemical stain is needed to visualize small caliber vessels' elastic fibers especially in tissues not fixed in 10% neutral buffered formalin only.

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