Sensitivity and specificity of Congo red staining according to Romhányi. Comparison with Puchtler's or Bennhold's methods

Miklós Bély, Josef Makovitzky

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34 Citations (Scopus)


The sensitivity and specificity of various Congo red staining methods is very important in the diagnosis of amyloidosis. When using a less sensitive staining method, some true positive cases of amyloidosis remain undetected. A more highly specific method potentially detects more cases and reveals amyloidosis in an earlier stage of deposition. In this paper, the Congo red staining method according to Romhányi is discussed in comparison with Puchtler's and Bennhold's methods. Using Romhányi's technique, there is no alcoholic differentiation, and thus no dye molecules are washed off the amyloid filaments. The binding of the oriented dye molecules is optimal for polarization microscopy. With this method, the polar hydrophilic mounting medium, gum Arabic is used. Mounted in this carbohydrate-containing, hydrophilic medium, the Congo red molecules are oriented parallel to the surface of the amyloid filaments and the sign is linear positive, corresponding to an additive character of topo-optical staining reactions. Otherwise, the Congo red molecules are oriented perpendicular to the surface of collagen, reducing the intensity of birefringence and even inducing an inversion of the original sign of the collagen birefringence. With alcoholic differentiation, Congo red dye molecules are extracted and this decreases the birefringence of amyloid deposits, i.e. minimal amyloid deposits may be missed. Using the apolar hydrophobic mounting medium, Canada balsam, an axis-parallel arrangement of Congo red dye molecules on the surface of collagen fibers and amyloid will occur, resulting in an additive topo-optical reaction with a green polarization color and a false positive diagnosis of amyloidosis ("phantom amyloidosis").

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-180
Number of pages6
JournalActa histochemica
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1 2006



  • Amyloidosis
  • Bennhold
  • Congo red staining
  • Puchtler
  • Romhányi
  • Sensitivity
  • Specificity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Histology
  • Cell Biology

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