Silver stain for ringed sideroblasts: A sensitive method that differs from Perls' reaction in mechanism and clinical application

K. T. Tham, J. B. Cousar, W. R. Macon

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5 Scopus citations


A modified silver stain is described for the demonstration of ringed sideroblasts in bone marrow. It is more sensitive than Perls' reaction for that purpose, especially when iron stores of marrow are low or absent. Ringed sideroblasts may still be demonstrable by silver stain in cases of sideroblastic anemia without ringed sideroblasts, for which severe iron deficiency prevents detection of the abnormal sideroblasts by Perls' reaction. As iron has been reported to be present in mitrochondria of ringed sideroblasts in the form of ferric phosphate, it is possible that the silver stain demonstrates the phosphate moiety and not the iron, thus explaining its greater sensitivity in iron deficiency as compared to Perls' reaction. Further study is necessary to confirm the staining mechanism, to elucidate the composition of iron deposits, and to explain the pathophysiology of sideroblastic anemia.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-76
Number of pages4
JournalAmerican journal of clinical pathology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 1990



  • Iron
  • Mitochondria
  • Sideroblastic anemia
  • Silver stain

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine

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