Morphometric evaluation of populations of neuronal profiles (cell bodies, dendrites, and nerve terminals) in the central nervous system

Microsc Res Tech. 1992 Jun 1;21(4):315-37. doi: 10.1002/jemt.1070210408.


Morphometric techniques have been developed to quantitatively characterize groups of transmitter-identified neuronal profiles, such as cell groups, dendrite and nerve terminal fields. These morphometric techniques will be illustrated by introducing some general tools for image analysis which can be considered as a background for the present specific applications. The following methods have been included: (1) methods to identify and quantitatively characterize, from both numerical and geometrical standpoints, groups of profiles in a two- and three-dimensional frame; (2) methods to evaluate the evenness of a certain distribution of profiles in the plane; (3) methods to identify subgroups of profiles based on their different spatial or optical density; and (4) methods to compare the distributions of two or more groups of profiles. The applications of these general tools to some neuroanatomical problems, such as cell group definition and description, have been illustrated. Practical examples performed on immunocytochemical preparations of neuronal profile populations are also given. Finally, the potentiality of numerical classification to classify and compare morphometric data has been shown. As an example, numerical classification methods have been applied to the morphometric and microdensitometric analysis of adrenaline/neuropeptide Y costoring neuronal systems of the brainstem in adult and aged rats.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / cytology*
  • Brain / enzymology
  • Brain Chemistry*
  • Cell Count
  • Dendrites / chemistry*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / chemistry
  • Medulla Oblongata / cytology
  • Nerve Endings / chemistry*
  • Neuropeptide Y / analysis
  • Phenylethanolamine N-Methyltransferase / analysis
  • Raphe Nuclei / chemistry
  • Raphe Nuclei / cytology
  • Rats
  • Rats, Inbred Strains
  • Serotonin / analysis
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / analysis


  • Neuropeptide Y
  • Serotonin
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • Phenylethanolamine N-Methyltransferase