Dithizone is a sulfur-containing organic compound. It is a good ligand
In coordination chemistry, a ligand is an ion or molecule that binds to a central metal atom to form a coordination complex. The bonding between metal and ligand generally involves formal donation of one or more of the ligand's electron pairs. The nature of metal-ligand bonding can range from...

, and forms complexes with many metals such as lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

 and mercury
Mercury (element)
Mercury is a chemical element with the symbol Hg and atomic number 80. It is also known as quicksilver or hydrargyrum...


Dithizone may be prepared by reacting phenylhydrazine
Phenylhydrazine is the chemical compound with the formula C6H5NHNH2. Organic chemists abbreviate the compound as PhNHNH2.- Chemical properties :...

 with carbon disulfide
Carbon disulfide
Carbon disulfide is a colorless volatile liquid with the formula CS2. The compound is used frequently as a building block in organic chemistry as well as an industrial and chemical non-polar solvent...

, followed by reaction with potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide
Potassium hydroxide is an inorganic compound with the formula KOH, commonly called caustic potash.Along with sodium hydroxide , this colorless solid is a prototypical strong base. It has many industrial and niche applications. Most applications exploit its reactivity toward acids and its corrosive...


Dithizone is used to assess the purity of human pancreatic islet preparations used for transplantaion into patients with type 1 diabetes. Dithizone binds zinc ions present in the islet's beta cells, and therefore stains the islets red. Exocrine tissue also present in the preparations does not bind dithizone, and is therefore not stained.
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