Fontana-Masson stain

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Masson-Fontana staining of metastatic melanoma.

Fontana-Masson stain is a special stain that marks the pigment melanin. It is a type of silver stain.[citation needed]

It is also known as Masson-Fontana stain,[1] Fontana-Masson stain for melanin, and melanin stain.


  1. Melanin.
  2. "Argentaffin granules" of the digestive tract.
  3. Pigment deposition due to minocycline treatment.[2]


  • Stain for melanin.
    • Displays melanin - whether it be in melanocytes, keratinocytes or melanophages.
    • IHC stains, i.e. Melan A, SOX10 or MITF are preferable for displaying melanocytes.
    • Used to differentiate brown pigments (lipofuscin, hemosiderin, melanin).[3]
    • Used to document Minocycline type II drug induced pigment deposition
      • Minocycline pigment, Type II will stain with both the Fontana-Masson stain AND the Perls iron stain.[4]
    • Used in the differential diagnosis of hypomelanosis
      • Idiopathic hypomelanosis will demonstrate ONLY loss of melanin with the Fontana-Masson stain - melanocytes will not be absent with the Melan A stain.
      • Vitiligo will show loss of melanin AND loss of melanocytes with a Melan A stain.

See also


  1. Gaitanis, G.; Chasapi, V.; Velegraki, A. (Aug 2005). "Novel application of the masson-fontana stain for demonstrating Malassezia species melanin-like pigment production in vitro and in clinical specimens.". J Clin Microbiol 43 (8): 4147-51. doi:10.1128/JCM.43.8.4147-4151.2005. PMID 16081962.
  2. Patterson, JW.; Wilson, B.; Wick, MR.; Heath, C. (Nov 2004). "Hyperpigmented scar due to minocycline therapy.". Cutis 74 (5): 293-8. PMID 15605966.
  3. URL: Accessed on: 5 May 2010.
  4. Geria AN, Tajirian AL, Kihiczak G, Schwartz RA (2009). "Minocycline-induced skin pigmentation: an update". Acta Dermatovenerol Croat 17 (2): 123–6. PMID 19595269.