The modified Steiner stain: A new use for an old stain? Staining cytomegalovirus-infected cells in gastrointestinal biopsies

Enma Saiz, Jack Lubin, Morton J. Robinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The modified Steiner stain is a non-specific silver stain for identifying bacteria in formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded tissues. The principle behind its use is that bacteria are first sensitized using uranyl nitrate solution, making them able to precipitate silver from a silver nitrate solution. It is used routinely for staining gastric biopsies to identify Helicobacter pylori. Upon staining a gastric biopsy from a patient with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) and cytomegalovirus gastritis, we recognized that this technique also stains the viral inclusions of cytomegalovirus-infected cells. We then proceeded to stain 43 consecutive cytomegalovirus-positive gastrointestinal biopsies from 33 immunocompromised patients based on positive cytomegalovirus immunohistochemistry (DAKO- cytomegalovirus monoclonal antibody, clones DDG9 and CCH2). We also stained eight cytomegalovirus-infected, non-gastrointestinal tissues, including lung, adrenal gland, ovary, skin and neural tissue, to ensure that the stain was staining the cytomegalovirus-infected cells and not argyrophilic or argentaffin neuroendocrine cells of the gastrointestinal tract. In 40 of the 43 cytomegalovirus-infected gastrointestinal biopsies, we saw positive staining with the modified Steiner stain (93% sensitivity). The cytomegalovirus-infected, non-gastrointestinal tissues all stained positively with the modified Steiner stain. Because the modified Steiner stain is frequently used to identify Helicobacter pylori in gastric biopsies, we propose that it be studied further for possible use either as a screen or as a confirmatory tool, or both, for cytomegalovirus inclusions in gastrointestinal biopsies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-552
Number of pages4
JournalHistochemical Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Sep 24 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Anatomy
  • Cell Biology


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