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July 1987

Glycosaminoglycans in Histologic Sections

Author Affiliations

Southern Illinois University School of Medicine PO Box 3926 Springfield, IL 62708; Bowling Green, Ky

Arch Dermatol. 1987;123(7):862-863. doi:10.1001/archderm.1987.01660310026003

To the Editor.—  Visualization of skin glycosaminoglycans (GAGs) in histologic sections is often difficult because of their high solubility in water. Fixation in an appropriate medium is therefore critical for the evaluation of dermal GAGs, which normally constitute less than 1% of dry dermis weight. This important point was recently emphasized in the Archives in a report of a 3-month-old infant with sclerdema.1 Heilbron and Saxe noted that fixation of skin specimens in 0.05% cetylpyridinium chloride (CPC) solution markedly enhances GAG visualization.We have specifically addressed the effect of fixation on GAG histologic expression. Using visual grading of histologic sections from a variety of acquired cutaneous mucinoses,2 we compared fixation with 1% CPC solution in formalin to formalin alone.3 Like Heilbron and Saxe, we also found that addition of CPC affords much better contrast by decreasing GAG leakage into the fixative. We further noted that the colloidal

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