Difference Between Stain and Dye in Histology

Main Difference

The main difference between stain and dye in histology is that stain is usually a combination of numerous dyes, whereas dye is a substance that highlights extracellular or intracellular elements of a tissue.

Stain vs. Dye in Histology

Stain highlights different works in different colors, while dye only highlights a particular component of the tissue only in one color. The stain is a mixture of different dyes, whereas dye is a chemical reagent. The main role of stain is to give contrast to the tissue; on the other hand, the main role of dye is to highlight a particular component within a tissue. Stain normally used for biological specimens; conversely, dye is used for normal purposes like staining clothes. Stain is a purified form, and it does not contain impurities in its structure; on the contrary, a dye is a crude form of color that contains impurities. The stain is produced with great attention or precautions and with extra firm conditions, while the dye is a crude form. Various examples of stain are toluidine blue, Wright’s stain, H&E, Masson’s trichrome stain; on the flip side, some examples of dye are pyronin G, Aniline blue, Methyl green, orange G.

Comparison Chart

StainDye
The stain is a mixture of specific dyes to color a biological synthetics in a lab.The dye is a distinct chemical mixture present in a stain.
Significance
A mixture of different dyesA chemical reagent
Colors
Highlights different works in different colorsOnly highlights a particular component of the tissue only in one color
Role
To give contrast to the tissueHighlight a particular component within a tissue
Functions
Normally used for biological specimensUsed for normal purposes like staining clothes
Purity/Impurity
A purified form and it does not contain impurities in its structureA crude form of color that contains impurities
Manufacture
Manufactured with great care and under more rigid specificationsA crude form
Examples
Toluidine blue, Wright’s stain, H&E, Masson’s trichrome stainPyronin G, Aniline blue, Methyl green, orange G

What is Stain?

The stain is generally a mixture of various dyes that enhance the contrast of biological specimen under in microscopic image. Normally, most cells that makeup tissues are transparent and colorless. That’s why to make the cells observable when observing under a microscope the tissues are stained in a specific way. Various chemical reagents are used in the technique of staining are the stains. Each dye present inside the stain is specifically accentuated a particular chemical object within a tissue. Hence, many constituents of tissues can be seen and observe in various contrasting colors under the microscope. Therefore, it means that stains give a contrasting shade to the microscopic slides and biological specimen. Stain process is not just limited for giving contrasting colors to biological specimen but can also be used to examine the structure of many other materials such as the spherical structures of block copolymers and the lamellar structure of partial-crystalline polymers. The stain is a purified form, and it does not contain impurities in its structure. The stain is produced with great attention or precautions and with extra fine conditions.

Types of Stain

  • In Vivo Stain: In vivo stain is the method used to stain or dyeing living tissues.
  • In Vitro Stain: In vitro stain is the process which includes the coloring of structures or cells that have been removed, or in other words, it is used to stain non-living tissues.

Examples

Various examples of stain are toluidine blue, Wright’s stain, H&E, Masson’s trichrome stain.

What is Dye?

A dye is a generally a single component which is contained in a strain. A particular dye can be used to accentuate a specific chemical object within a tissue. Hence, to accentuated many constituents in the same slide, then a mixture of several types of dyes should be used. Dye is a crude form of color that contains impurities. The dye is used for normal purposes like staining clothes. The two general central types of dye are acidic dye and basic dye. Basic dye usually deals with acidic/anionic constituents of the tissue, for instance, a nucleic acid. Acidic dye normally reacts with basic/cationic components of the tissue, for instance, proteins.

Basic Dye

  • Methylene Blue: Blue color
  • Pyronin G: Red color
  • Toluidine Blue: Blue color
  • Methyl Green: Green color

Acidic Dye

  • Aniline Blue: Blue color
  • Eosin: Red color
  • Acid fuchsin: Red color
  • Orange G: Orange color

Key Differences

  1. Stain usually highlights different components in different colors, while dye only highlights a particular component of the tissue only in one color.
  2. The stain is a combination of different dyes, whereas dye is a chemical reagent.
  3. The main role of stain is to give contrast to the tissue; on the other hand, the main role of dye is to highlight a particular component within a tissue.
  4. Stain normally used for biological specimens; conversely, the dye is used for normal purposes like staining clothes.
  5. The stain is a purified form, and it does not contain impurities; on the contrary, a dye is a crude form of color that contains impurities.
  6. The stain is produced with great attention or precautions and with extra fine conditions.
  7. Various examples of stain are toluidine blue, Wright’s stain, H&E, Masson’s trichrome stain; on the flip side, some examples of dye are pyronin G, Aniline blue, Methyl green, orange G.

Conclusion

Above discussion concludes that the stain is usually a mixture of several dyes and it is used to give contrast to the tissue, whereas dye is a substance that highlights extracellular or intracellular elements of tissue and used for usual purposes like staining clothes.

Janet White

Janet White is a writer and blogger for Difference Wiki since 2015. She has a master's degree in science and medical journalism from Boston University. Apart from work, she enjoys exercising, reading, and spending time with her friends and family. Connect with her on Twitter @Janet__White

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