Collection, Embedding and Special Staining of Intestinal Tissue Samples

Collection, Embedding and Special Staining of Intestinal Tissue Samples

The study of intestinal tissue is crucial for understanding digestive disorders, infections, and diseases like Crohn's disease and colorectal cancer. Researchers and medical professionals rely on precise methods to collect, preserve, and analyze these tissue samples. In this guide, we delve into the intricate processes of tissue collection, embedding, and special staining, shedding light on the essential steps involved in unraveling the mysteries of intestinal health.

Figure1. Immunofluorescence staining of normal human small bowel tissue sections with antibodies to various epithelial markers.

Tissue Collection: Unveiling the Essence

Before any analysis can begin, the proper collection of intestinal tissue is paramount. This process requires meticulous attention to detail to ensure the integrity and accuracy of the samples. Typically, tissue samples are obtained through endoscopic procedures or surgical resections.

Endoscopic procedures involve the use of a thin, flexible tube equipped with a camera and a light source, which is inserted through the mouth or rectum to visualize and collect tissue samples from the intestinal lining. During this procedure, biopsy forceps are used to grasp and remove small pieces of tissue for analysis.

In cases where deeper layers of the intestinal wall need to be examined, surgical resection may be necessary. This involves the removal of a portion of the intestine through surgery, allowing for the extraction of larger tissue samples for analysis.

Once collected, the tissue samples must be handled with care to prevent damage or contamination. They are typically placed in a preservative solution, such as formalin, to fix them in their natural state and prevent degradation.

Embedding: Preserving the Essence

After collection, tissue samples undergo embedding to prepare them for microscopic analysis. Embedding involves encasing the tissue in a solid medium, typically paraffin wax, to provide support and stability during the sectioning process.

The embedding process begins with dehydration, where the tissue samples are gradually soaked in a series of alcohol solutions to remove water and replace it with a clearing agent, such as xylene. This step ensures that the tissue is adequately prepared for infiltration with the embedding medium.

Once dehydrated, the tissue samples are immersed in molten paraffin wax, allowing the wax to infiltrate and surround the tissue. The samples are then cooled and hardened, creating a solid block of embedded tissue.

Embedding not only preserves the structural integrity of the tissue but also facilitates the sectioning process, allowing for thin slices to be cut for microscopic analysis.

Special Staining: Revealing the Hidden

Special staining techniques are employed to enhance the visibility of specific structures or substances within the tissue, aiding in the identification and characterization of cellular components and pathological changes.

One commonly used staining method is Hematoxylin and Eosin (H&E) staining, which imparts a blue color to cell nuclei (Hematoxylin) and a pink color to cytoplasm and extracellular structures (Eosin). This staining technique provides contrast and allows for the visualization of cellular morphology and tissue architecture.

Other special staining techniques target specific cellular components or pathological features. For example, Periodic Acid-Schiff (PAS) staining is used to detect carbohydrates, highlighting structures such as glycogen and mucin within the tissue. Additionally, immunohistochemistry (IHC) staining can be used to detect the presence of specific proteins or antigens within the tissue, providing valuable insights into disease processes and biomarker expression.

By employing these special staining techniques, researchers and pathologists can uncover hidden details within intestinal tissue samples, aiding in the diagnosis and characterization of various gastrointestinal disorders and diseases.


The analysis of intestinal tissue samples is a complex and multifaceted process that requires precision, expertise, and attention to detail. From the collection of tissue samples to their embedding and special staining, each step plays a crucial role in unraveling the mysteries of intestinal health and disease.

By employing meticulous techniques and leveraging advancements in staining technology, researchers and medical professionals can gain valuable insights into the underlying mechanisms of gastrointestinal disorders and diseases, paving the way for improved diagnostic methods and targeted therapeutic interventions.

As our understanding of intestinal biology continues to evolve, so too will the techniques and methodologies employed in tissue analysis. By embracing innovation and collaboration, we can continue to navigate the depths of intestinal tissue analysis, ultimately advancing our ability to diagnose, treat, and prevent gastrointestinal diseases for the benefit of patients worldwide.

Related Products

  1. Chougule P, et al.; Isolation and characterization of human primary enterocytes from small intestine using a novel method. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2012, 47(11):1334-43.

*If your organization requires the signing of a confidentiality agreement, please contact us by email.

Please note: Our services can only be used for research purposes. Do not use in diagnostic or therapeutic procedures!

Online Inquiry