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J Med Vet Mycol. 1994;32(1):31-5.

Application of neutral red staining for evaluation of the viability of dermatophytes and Candida in human skin scales.

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  • 1Department of Dermatology, Keio University School of Medicine, Tokyo, Japan.


The fungal elements observed by direct microscopic examination sometimes fail to grow on subsequent culture. To elucidate the cause of this discrepancy, the viability of dermatophytes and Candida in skin scales was evaluated by neutral red staining. Autoradiographic study using 3H-thymidine confirmed that grain-positive cells (viable cells) were stained with neutral red, whereas negative cells (non-viable cells) were not stained. Taking this as a baseline, the correlation between neutral red-positive fungal elements in scales taken from 211 patients with tinea and 27 patients with cutaneous candidosis and cultures on Sabouraud glucose agar was studied. Strong positive correlations were found in both mycoses. These findings suggest that neutral red staining provides a useful method for evaluating the viability of dermatophytes and Candida in human skin scales.

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