Glycogen depletion can increase the specificity of mucin detection in airway tissues

David K. Meyerholz, Amanda P. Beck, J. Adam Goeken, Mariah R. Leidinger, Georgina K. Ofori-Amanfo, Hannah C. Brown, Thomas R. Businga, David A. Stoltz, Leah R. Reznikov, Heather A. Flaherty

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Objective: Mucin is an important parameter for detection and assessment in studies of airway disease including asthma and cystic fibrosis. Histochemical techniques are often used to evaluate mucin in tissues sections. Periodic acid Schiff (PAS) is a common technique to detect neutral mucins in tissue, but this technique also detects other tissue components including cellular glycogen. We tested whether depletion of glycogen, a common cellular constituent, could impact the detection of mucin in the surface epithelium of the trachea. Results: Normal tissues stained by PAS had significantly more staining than serial sections of glycogen-depleted tissue with PAS staining (i.e. dPAS technique) based on both quantitative analysis and semiquantitative scores. Most of the excess stain by the PAS technique was detected in ciliated cells adjacent to goblet cells. We also compared normal tissues using the Alcian blue technique, which does not have reported glycogen staining, with the dPAS technique. These groups had similar amounts of staining consistent with a high degree of mucin specificity. Our results suggest that when using PAS techniques to stain airways, the dPAS approach is preferred as it enhances the specificity for airway mucin.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number763
JournalBMC Research Notes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Oct 25 2018


  • Alcian blue
  • Diastase-periodic acid Schiff (dPAS)
  • Glycogen
  • Mucin
  • Mucus
  • Nonspecific staining
  • Periodic acid Schiff (PAS)
  • Scoring
  • Specificity
  • Staining

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology


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