A serial-section study of perforated synapses in rat neocortex

Cell Tissue Res. 1987 Mar;247(3):565-72. doi: 10.1007/BF00215750.


The morphology of perforated synapses in the molecular layer of rat parietal cortex has been studied in 28-day-old animals. Of the perforated synapses analyzed, 92% were axospinous and of these all had asymmetrical contacts. A spinule was present in 20% of them, and 63% had a negative curvature (concave with respect to the presynaptic terminal) overall. Up to 95% of perforated synapses had one or more negatively-curved segments. The perforated synapses studied were characterized by postsynaptic densities (PSD) with a mean length of 581 nm, compared with 233 nm for non-perforated synapses. A study of over 100 serially sectioned synapses demonstrated that, in perforated synapses, the PSD and perforations often had a highly irregular shape and arrangement, the site of the perforation frequently projected into the presynaptic terminal, and coated evaginations of membrane, or coated vesicles, were sometimes found at the site of a perforation or towards the periphery of perforated PSDs. Preliminary reconstructions of perforated synapses suggest that, for descriptive purposes, three types can be recognized. Criteria are formulated for determining, on the basis of a study of single sections, which non-perforated profiles belong to perforated synapses.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Axons / ultrastructure
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiology
  • Cerebral Cortex / ultrastructure*
  • Dendrites / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Rats
  • Synapses / physiology
  • Synapses / ultrastructure*