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J Histochem Cytochem. 1985 Aug;33(8):833-6.

Application of Nile red, a fluorescent hydrophobic probe, for the detection of neutral lipid deposits in tissue sections: comparison with oil red O.

Abstract

Nile red is a phenoxazone dye that fluoresces intensely, and in varying color, in organic solvents and hydrophobic lipids. However, the fluorescence is fully quenched in water. The dye acts, therefore, as a fluorescent hydrophobic probe. We utilized this novel property of nile red to develop a sensitive fluorescent histochemical stain for tissue lipids. Nile red was prepared by boiling Nile blue A under reflux for 2 hr in 0.5% H2SO4, and extracting the product into xylene. For staining, the purified dye is dissolved in 75% glycerol (1-5 micrograms/ml) and applied to frozen tissue sections. Tissue lipids then fluoresce yellow-gold to red, depending on their relative hydrophobicity. Using sections of liver and aorta from a cholesterol-fed rabbit, we assessed the value of Nile red as a stain for neutral lipids by comparing the staining pattern obtained with that produced by oil red O, a commonly used dye for tissue cholesteryl esters and triacylglycerols. In the cholesterol fatty liver, Nile red staining was comparable to that of oil red O. In contrast, Nile red staining of rabbit aortic atheroma revealed ubiquitous lipid deposits not observed with oil red O staining. These latter results suggest that Nile red can detect neutral lipid deposits, presumably unesterified cholesterol, not usually seen with oil red O or other traditional fat stains.

PMID:
4020099
DOI:
10.1177/33.8.4020099
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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