Alcohol-Based Fixatives can Better Preserve Tissue Morphology than Formalin

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Ziaul Haque; Md. Asabur Rahman; Md. Zahirul Islam Khan; Mohammad Tufazzal Hussan & Md. Mahmudul Alam


Fixation is a crucial step in processing of tissue specimen for preservation of cellular architecture and composition of cells. Alcohol-based fixatives are considered some of the most promising alternatives to formalin. We evaluated the performance of alcohol-based fixatives (EthMeth and methacarn) and formalin as a comparator fixative in the research laboratory. Following 24 hours of fixation, tissue morphology and cellular details of the liver, spleen and brain (cerebral cortex) were evaluated. Morphological characteristics were evaluated by gross observations and analyzing cellular details, tissue architecture and overall staining characteristics (Hematoxylin and Eosin). EthMeth and methacarn fixation gave generally comparable and satisfactory results on the tissue morphology and subsequent identification of tissue characteristics. Particularly, tissues were well preserved and all nuclear as well as cytoplasmic details were clearly visible. However, formalin fixed tissues showed some peculiarity such as improper fixation, mild shrinkage, and alterations of tissue components. These results confirm that alcohol-based fixation is the superior alternative to formalin for preservation of tissue morphology. However, it is required to standardize the formalin-free methods and harmonize diagnosis in the laboratory worldwide.

KEY WORDS: Fixation; EthMeth; Methacarn; Formalin; Tissue morphology.

How to cite this article

HAQUE, Z.; RAHMAN, M. A.; KHAN, M. Z. I.; HUSSAN, M. T. & ALAM, M. M. Alcohol-based fixatives can better preserve tissue morphology than formalin. Int. J. Morphol., 38(5):1371-1375, 2020.