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November 1971


Arch Dermatol. 1971;104(5):560. doi:10.1001/archderm.1971.04000230102018

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To the Editor.—  The report (104:21-25, 1971) of Cantwell and Kelso, "Acid-Fast Bacteria in Scleroderma and Morphea" draws delicate question marks. What is acid-fastness? What are the organisms they observed?Bacteriologists do not classify mycobacteria according to acid-fastness. Some mycobacterial species show none of this property when grown in glycerin-free or fat-free media. Some have their acid-fastness washed quickly away by a fat solvent. The organism causing lepra bubalorum, the buffalo leprosy of the Celebes, is beautifully acid-fast in direct smear, but non-acid-fast after a good bath in Xylol. Lipids play a significant role in the staining reaction. Mycobacterium lepraemurium offers a high degree of resistance to decolorization by acids and alcohols, but perhaps accumulation of lipids in tissue helps.Myelin is nicely acid-fast after chromium-salt fixation, but not otherwise. Heads of some spermatozoa, and retinal rods, can be acid-fast to fuchsin staining. Acid-fast hair shafts of small rodents

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