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Image from Department of Zoology Southern Illinois University at Carbondale
As a part of an experiment, a scientist is examining brain tissues obtained from
the frontal cortex of two different mice. While one mouse has not undergone any
special treatments, the other house mouse has been subjected to a procedure
intended to introduce a specific genetic mutation. The mutation in question
reduces the rate at which the mouse’s cells can synthesize ribosomal
RNA. If the scientist is primarily interested in whether the mutation
procedure was effective, which histological stain would be most
useful for comparing the brain tissues obtained from these two mice?
One of the foundational debates in the history of neuroscience concerned the
microscopic structure of nervous tissue. Proponents of the reticular theory
believed that all nervous tissue was made of interlinked, continuous networks of
fibers. In contrast, the proponents of the neuron doctrine proposed
that nervous tissue was composed of discrete, individual cells rather
than a continuous network of biological materials. Which stain do you
think would be most useful for preparing a tissue sample which
supports the neuron doctrine?
Image from Medical University of South Carolina. HINT: image was used to detect the presence of
amyloid plaques (large protein aggregates) which appear as bright red patches in the tissue sample
Image from study published by
Wills et al. (2011) in Molecular
Multiple sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by the breakdown of
the myelin sheath. Without the protective insulation of the myelin, affected
neurons often deteriorate, die, and are replaced by plaques of fibrous scar tissue
(the term ‘multiple sclerosis’ can be translated as ‘many scars’. A young man with
a family history of multiple sclerosis has been seeing a neurologist
due recent motor disturbances including repeated loss of
balance and unexpected transient limb paralysis. The neurologist
orders a CT head scan (sclerotic plaques in the brain can often be
identified this way), but detects no plaques. To be thorough, she also
takes several spinal biopsies from her patient. Assuming that this neurologist is
concerned with detecting the presence or absence of myelin in her patient’s
spine, which stain would be most useful?
Image from Columbia University SBPDM Histology Lab Manual. HINT: Image depicts a large blood vessel
Suppose a scientist is interested in
comparing the total number of
neurons present in a specific region of the
temporal lobe for human brain donors who
have experienced traumatic brain injury
versus donors who have not experienced
traumatic brain injury. He consults with a
senior colleague, who explicitly advises
AGAINST using one of the four stains
discussed in this lab. Which stain would be
most problematic for this particular line of
Image from study published by Foo and Sobah
(2014) in Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
Case Reports
Top image from Online Veterinary Academy
Bottom image from
Image from UMass Amherst Biology Department.
Structure A
Structure B
Image from University of New South Wales Embryology.
Image from
Lab Manual
Image from Scientific American blog
Image from University of Michigan Faculty of Medicine