One hundred years of Golgi's "perineuronal net": History of a denied structure

L. Vitellaro-Zuccarello, S. De Biasi, R. Spreafico

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Perineuronal nets are reticular structures enwrapping cell bodies and the largest dendrites of several neuronal populations. Discovered by Camillo Golgi, who described them in detail in 1898, they were intensely studied by the most famous contemporary neurohistologists for about twenty years. The opinion of Ramón y Cajal that perineuronal nets were a fixation artifact ended the first period of studies. Only a few researchers, among whom the Italian neurologists Besta and Belloni, went on with their studies up to the 1930s documenting the morphology of perineuronal nets of different mammals and of man both in normal and in pathological conditions. Only after about fifty years, the advances in the field of cytochemistry allowed the elucidation of not only the actual existence of perineuronal nets, but also their chemical nature, showing conclusively that they are complex organisations of extracellular matrix molecules, namely glycoproteins and proteoglycans. The research on perineuronal nets today involves several groups engaged to elucidate their biological properties and functional role.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)249-253
Number of pages5
JournalItalian Journal of Neurological Sciences
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1998


  • Extracellular matrix
  • Golgi
  • History of neuroscience
  • Pericellular nets
  • Ramón y Cajal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Dermatology

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    Vitellaro-Zuccarello, L., De Biasi, S., & Spreafico, R. (1998). One hundred years of Golgi's "perineuronal net": History of a denied structure. Italian Journal of Neurological Sciences, 19(4), 249-253.