Ziehl-Neelsen stain

Ziehl-Neelsen stain


Ziehl-Neelsen stain is a staining method to highlight Acid-Alcoholic Resistant Bacilli (AARB). This group of bacilli includes: Mycobacterium tuberculosis, Mycobacterium leprae and other mycobacteria. Mycobacteria have difficulty in histology because it is difficult to penetrate dyes in these microorganisms because of their resistance.

The Ziehl-Neelsen stain consists of 3 steps:
  • First step: applying an energetic dye to hot or cold
  • Second step: successive discolorations with a strong acid then with alcohol at 90 ° C
  • Third step: contrast recoloration
Ziehl-Neelsen stain is required in case of clinical or histological suspicion of tuberculosis, atypical mycobacterial infections in subjects with AIDS (curved and beaded bacilli).
Here are some examples of stains obtained with the Ziehl-Neelsen stain:
  • Acid-resistant bacilli: Red
  • Red blood cells: Yellow
  • Background: Light blue

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