Morphometry of E-PTA stained synapses at the periphery of pathological lesions

Carlo Bertoni-Freddari, Patrizia Fattoretti, Riccardo Ricciuti, Stefano Vecchioni, Tiziana Casoli, Moreno Solazzi, Alessandro Ducati

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We carried out a novel application of the disector sampling and counting method, in a biopsy material from the pathologic human brain, to estimate the synaptic structural dynamics, quantitatively. Parietal cortex biopsies of adult (mean age: 40.0 years) and old (mean age: 66.2 years) patients having undergone surgical intervention were investigated. The tissue samples were excised at the periphery of meningioma masses. Synaptic contact zones were stained en bloc by the ethanol phosphotungstic acid (E-PTA) preferential technique which selectively enhances both the pre- and post-synaptic paramembranous material separated by a sharp cleft against a very faint background, thus facilitating and objectifying synaptic morphometry. The disector method, associated with currently used morphometric formulas, enabled us to measure the number of synapses/μm3 of tissue (numeric density: Nv; the total area of the synaptic contact zones/μm3 of tissue (surface density: Sv) and the average synaptic size (S). In old vs. adult patients, Nv decreased by 7.5% (Mean (SEM): Adult 2.0040(0.0452); Old 1.6780(0.0623)), while S increased by 17.5% (Adult 0.0203(0.0026); Old 0.0246(0.0035)). Sv did not show any age-related difference. The same negative correlation between Nv and S has also been reported in physiological aging, and this suggests the active presence of age-related synaptic restructuring mechanisms in the nervous tissue surrounding a tumoral mass.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)447-451
Number of pages5
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2002


  • Disector
  • Ethanol phosphotungstic acid
  • Morphofunctional synapses
  • Morphometry
  • Synaptic dynamic morphology
  • Synaptic network
  • Synaptic pathology
  • Synaptic size
  • Synaptic surface density

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cell Biology
  • Materials Science(all)
  • Instrumentation
  • Biotechnology


Dive into the research topics of 'Morphometry of E-PTA stained synapses at the periphery of pathological lesions'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this