VECTASHIELD® Antifade Mounting Media

Antifade mounting media optimized for immunofluorescence applications

Choosing an effective mounting medium is especially important for immunofluorescence imaging. Fluorophores are susceptible to photobleaching and fading from the imaging excitation light, handling, and during storage.

Vector Laboratories is a market leader for mounting media that provide excellent signal retention for image acquisition and specimen archiving.

Complete your IF workflow with VECTASHIELD, VECTASHIELD HardSet™ or VECTASHIELD Vibrance Antifade Mounting Media:

  • Inhibit fading and photobleaching of most fluorophores, dyes, fluorescent proteins, and stains
  • Exhibit ideal refractive indices
  • Are ready-to-use (no warming necessary) and easy to use
  • Inhibit photobleaching even after prolonged storage of mounted slides
  • Are available with or without nuclear or cytoskeletal counterstain, in hardening or non-hardening formulations

VECTASHIELD Antifade Mounting Medium

  • Glycerol-based, aqueous mountant
  • Remains viscous, rather than solidifying
  • After mounting, cover-slipped slides will not dry out, enabling you to review them for weeks without the need for sealing
  • For prolonged storage, seal coverslips with nail polish applied on the coverslip perimeter


VECTASHIELD PLUS Antifade Mounting Medium

  • No inherent toning or background
  • Superior signal retention across the spectrum from blue to far red
  • Mounted sections can be viewed in 1 hour
  • With or without DAPI counterstain
  • Superior non-setting formulation


VECTASHIELD HardSet Mounting Medium

  • Aqueous mountant
  • Hardens at room temperature in as little as 20 minutes
  • Provides easy slide handling
  • Eliminates the need to secure the coverslip with nail polish
  • Convenient for use with oil immersion microscopy
  • Available with or without DAPI or TRITC-phalloidin counterstain

VECTASHIELD Vibrance Antifade Mounting Medium

  • Superior antifade properties across the spectrum 
  • Compatibility with commonly used fluorophores 
  • View sections one hour after mounting 
  • No tone or autofluorescent background 
  • Room temperature storage of slides for several weeks 
  • Minimal bubble formation, even with extended archiving 
  • Available with or without DAPI counterstain
This diagram features established applications for our antifade mounting media formats. VECTASHIELD Antifade Mounting Media are widely utilized to protect the inherent fluorescent properties of traditional and contemporary fluorophores in many applications using epifluorescence and confocal microscopy. The versatility of the original VECTASHIELD format solves the demands of labs and core facilities using multiple platforms and fluorescent markers. Furthermore, VECTASHIELD reagents are also recognized as leading media in emerging techniques such as super resolution microscopy (SRM).
VECTASHIELD Mounting Media are the most widely referenced antifade mounting media for immunofluorescence applications. Currently, over 60,000 published references cite using VECTASHIELD Mounting Media and describe compatibility with over 130 fluorophores and fluorescent markers. This data underscores the prominence of VECTASHIELD reagents in this application. The graphic above highlights the most commonly references fluorophores used in combination with VECTASHIELD Antifade Mounting Media.

All About VECTASHIELD® Antifade Mounting Media

Mounting Media

Mounting media are solutions or resins that protect samples and signals for viewing and for storage.

Vector Laboratories manufactures the industry’s best selection of mounting media for light and epi-fluorescent microscopy applications. Our mounting media are backed by independent research and are optimized for either immunohistochemistry (IHC) or immunofluorescence (IF) experiments.


Table of Contents




What are Mounting Media?

In tissue-based histology, mounting a sample refers to attaching the sample onto a glass slide for viewing under a microscope. This usually involves applying a solution (the mounting medium) onto the slide for that purpose. Mounting media can include anything from air to water or a solution or resin developed for that purpose.




What’s the Purpose of Mounting Media?

At their most basic, mounting media adhere your specimen to a glass slide and coverslip. Some mounting media, however, have been developed for one or all these additional benefits:

  • To prevent cells from drying out
  • To prevent signals from fading or photobleaching
  • To preserve specimens for short or long-term storage
  • To improve the clarity of samples when viewed under the microscope

What are the Different Types of Mounting Media?

Mounting media can be classified as:

  • Liquid mounting media, such as aqueous glycerol and lactophenol-based fluid media
  • Solidifying (or semi-solid) media, including natural and synthetic gums and resins
      • Water-soluble mounting media (e.g., glycerol-gelatin and gum-chloral)
      • Partially water-tolerant mounting media (e.g., Euparal)
      • Hydrocarbon-soluble mounting media (e.g., neutral Canada balsam)

Picking among these and other types of mounting media will depend on numerous factors: such as the desire to protect and store a sample for a long period of time or even chemical incompatibilities between your specific sample type and the solvents of the mounting medium.

For instance: if your only concern is purely long-term storage, you might want to consider a hardsetting (solidifying) medium like Canada balsam; it’s well-known for its excellent durability.

Of course, there are plenty of other considerations so we discuss them—and their relevant mounting media—next.


Which Mounting Medium Should I Choose?

When choosing the best mounting medium for your application, consider the following:

    1. The application:
      • For immunohistochemistry (IHC) or light microscopy applications, use a colorless mounting medium, like our clear-dry VectaMount™ Permanent Mounting Medium.
      • For immunofluorescence (IF) applications, use a medium that protects the fluorescent signal with antifade, anti-photobleaching properties
        • Our VECTASHIELD Antifade Mounting Media are well-regarded for their antioxidant-like, free-radical scavenging capabilities.
        • A study conducted with a grant from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research found that, “Vectashield offered the best antifading properties [with respect to study comparators and]...Vectashield is particularly recommended as a mounting medium for quantitative digital imaging microscopy and for multicolor applications.”
        • Another independent study mentioned that “[for] mounting in Vectashield, overall photobleaching was greatly reduced and even negligible during dark periods.”
    2. For maximum clarity, detail, and contrast, the refractive index (RI) of the mounting medium should be close to that of glass (1.5) or the sample’s fixed/dried protein layers (1.53). Both VectaMount and VECTASHIELD mounting media have RIs that are superior to that of others, like Fluoromout-G.
    3. To create a permanent mount of a specimen, use a hardsetting medium. The medium should be able to harden quickly but still provide an ideal RI.
    4. For long-term storage, use a mounting medium that protects your samples from oxidation, changes in pH, and other physical or chemical damage.
      • Samples mounted with VectaMount media can be safely stored at room temperature for at least two years
      • Our VECTASHIELD Vibrance Medium offers superior archiving over competitors. It shows no loss of signal intensity or sample integrity after weeks of storage at room temperaturecolon tissue comparison.
    5. Mounting media should resist microbial contamination, bubble formation, crystallization, shrinking, cracking, and deformation. 


  1. Some media include solvents or other chemicals that can be toxic or harm some cells, tissues, and stains.  See our product-specific data sheets for more information on which of our mounting media are right for you and your specimens.

Can I Make My Own Mounting Media?

You can make your own mounting media, including glycerol-based mounting media. But creating your own mounting media can come at the cost of variable and inappropriate refractive indices. This will make it harder for you to know what you’re looking at under the microscope.

Independent research funded by the UK Medical Research Council noted that:

 “To simplify sample preparation, we have adopted protocols to mount samples for dSTORM in Vectashield [16], which avoids the preparation of complex chemical buffers and the need to use relatively expensive sample chambers in order to contain the liquid buffers.”

Another independent study commented as follows:

“The mounting medium Vectashield gives thus a higher level of freedom for the selection of labelling strategy, which is important to address various biological problems.”

It might simply be easier, faster, and even less expensive to rely on our accessible, professionally made, and quality-controlled mounting media instead.

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