Stains & CD markers
Jones methenamine silver

Editor-in-Chief: Debra L. Zynger, M.D.
Arzu Sağlam, M.D.

Last author update: 1 July 2018
Last staff update: 1 August 2022

Copyright: 2003-2022,, Inc.

PubMed Search: Jones methenamine silver

Arzu Sağlam, M.D.
Page views in 2021: 4,834
Page views in 2022 to date: 2,328
Cite this page: Sağlam A. Jones methenamine silver. website. Accessed August 11th, 2022.
Definition / general
  • Jones methenamine silver (JMS) is a histochemical stain which highlights carbohydrates that can be oxidized to aldehydes
Essential features
  • Delineates basement membranes and connective tissue components
  • Most commonly used in renal pathology, to demonstrate abnormalities of the glomerular basement membrane
  • Basement membranes and oxidizable carbohydrates are stained black - argyrophilic
  • For optimal results, tissue sections should be thin, about 2µm (Am J Med Technol 1976;42:220)
  • Jones methenamine silver, Jones silver stain
  • Argyrophilia: silver positive, that is black staining with Jones methenamine silver, or other silver stains like Periodic acid silver methamine stain (PAMS), Grimelius (with Bouin's fixative), modification of Pascual's method (Journal of Histotechnology 1979;2:102)
  • Argyrophobia: silver negative, does not stain black with Jones methenamine silver, or other silver stains like Periodic acid silver methamine stain (PAMS), Grimelius (with Bouin's fixative), modification of Pascual's method (Journal of Histotechnology 1979;2:102)
  • Aldehydes formed by oxidation of carbohydrates reduce a silver solution, causing the silver ions to bind to the carbohydrate and be visualized
Uses by pathologists
  • Black staining is positive
Microscopic (histologic) images

Contributed by Arzu Sağlam, M.D. and Nicole K. Andeen, M.D.

Renal biopsy specimen

Spikes along glomerular basement membrane

Duplications of glomerular basement membrane

Extracapillary proliferation

Stain reveals basement membrane

Tubulitis and peritubular capillaritis

Rupture of Bowman capsule

Protein resorption droplets

Reduplication of internal elastic

Tubulointerstitial scarring

Amyloid deposits

Glomerulus with segmental sclerosis

Fibrin is argyrophobic

Immune complexes are argyrophobic

Collapse of the glomerular tuft and prominence of the overlying epithelial cells, Jones stain

Positive staining - normal and disease
  • Highlights details of the glomerular basement membrane
  • Helps delineate the glomeruli within crescents and hence highlights the presence of extracapillary proliferation
  • Also helps delineate mesangial areas of glomeruli which are argyrophilic - presence / absence of expansion
  • Highlights basement membrane of tubuli: rupture, thickening and defects
    • Is also useful in demonstrating tubulitis in cases of renal rejection by highlighting the stromal epithelial interface
  • Highlights basement membrane of Bowman capsule: rupture, thickening
  • Highlights elastic lamina of vessels: disruption, duplication, fragmentation
  • Protein resorption droplets within podocytes and tubular epithelial cell cytoplasm stain black
  • Renin granules within hyperplastic juxtaglomerular apparatus stain black
  • Highlights areas of scarring: areas of sclerosis stain black - sclerotic segments of glomeruli, globally sclerosed glomeruli and interstitial fibrosis
  • Hyphae and spores of fungi stain black
  • Nodules in diabetes and idiopathic nodular glomerulosclerosis are weak positive
Negative staining - disease
  • Identification of certain deposits due their nonargyrophilia or argyrophobia (negative staining)
  • Amyloid deposits: appear gray
  • Deposits in monoclonal immunoglobulin deposition disease and other diseases with paraprotein deposition
  • Fibronectin deposits in fibronectin glomerulopathy (are silver negative)
  • Hyaline droplets: appear pink / pinkish red
  • Fibrin: appears pink
  • Immune complexes along the glomerular basement membrane: appear pink / pinkish red
  • Decreased staining of glomerular basement membrane in dense deposit disease due to negative intramembranous deposits (Kidney Int 1975;7:204)
Board review style question #1
    Which of the below is positive (argyrophilic) with the Jones methenamine silver stain?

  1. Amyloid
  2. Fibrin
  3. Hyaline deposits
  4. Intramembranous deposits of “Dense deposit disease”
  5. Sclerosis
Board review style answer #1
E. Sclerosis

Comment Here

Reference: Jones methenamine silver
Board review style question #2
    A patient with a diagnosis of Familial Mediterranean Fever undergoes a renal biopsy. Light microscopy reveals acellular eosinophilic nodular expansion within the mesangium that are negative (argyrophobic) with the Jones methenamine silver stain. Presence of which of the following most likely explains this finding?

  1. Amyloid deposition
  2. Area of segmental sclerosis
  3. Dense deposit disease
  4. Diabetic nodular glomerulosclerosis
  5. Hyalinosis
Board review style answer #2
A. Amyloid deposition

Comment Here

Reference: Jones methenamine silver
Back to top
Image 01 Image 02