Enlargement of synaptic size as a compensative reaction in aging and dementia

C. Bertoni-Freddari, P. Fattoretti, M. Pieroni, W. Meier-Ruge, J. Ulrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A quantitative investigation has been carried out on synaptic contact zones of dentate gyrus supragranular layer and cerebellar glomeruli in autoptic samples from adult, old and demented patients. During physiological aging and senile dementia, the synaptic average area was significantly increased as compared to adult values in both the CNS areas investigated. Conversely, the number of contacts and their total surface contact area per unit volume of tissue were decreased. Current literature reports that, in animal models, enlarged synapses undergo perforations and splitting to modify synaptic connectivity. As against these assumptions, the increased synaptic size observed in our study appears to represent a compensative reaction of old and demented CNS to counteract the reduction in number and in total contact area of the synaptic junctions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-615
Number of pages4
JournalPathology Research and Practice
Issue number4-5
Publication statusPublished - 1992

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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