Morphological plasticity of synaptic mitochondria during aging

Carlo Bertoni-Freddari, Patrizia Fattoretti, Tiziana Casoli, Carla Spagna, William Meier-Ruge, Jurg Ulrich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A morphometric investigation has been carried out on the synaptic mitochondria of cerebellar glomeruli in young, adult and old rats by means of a computer-assisted image analysis technique. Mitochondrial volume density (Vv), numerical density (Nv), average volume (V) and average length (Skeleton = Sk) were investigated in tissue samples fixed, embedded and sectioned according to conventional electron microscopic methods. Vv was unchanged in the three groups of age taken into account. Nv was significantly increased in adult vs. young animals, whereas it was decreased in the old group as compared to both the other two groups investigated. V and Sk showed the same age-dependent changes: they significantly decreased in the adult vs. the young and the old groups of rats while increased significantly in the old rats vs. both the adult and young animals. A percentage distribution of Sk demonstrated that in the old group 20.6% of the population of synaptic mitochondria account for elongated organelles (> 5 μm) as compared to 8.6% and 5.3% in young and adult animals, respectively. The present findings match the changes previously reported by us on the ultrastructure of synaptic contact zones both in rats and human beings, and support the idea of an age-dependent dynamic adaptation in the morphology of synaptic mitochondria to cope with the metabolic needs of the pattern of synaptic connectivity they subserve.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-200
Number of pages8
JournalBrain Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Nov 19 1993


  • Aging
  • Brain aging
  • Cerebellum
  • Mitochondrial plasticity
  • Mitochondrion
  • Morphometry
  • Synaptic mitochondrion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neuroscience(all)


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