Stereology, a new quantitative morphological approach to study prostatic function and disease

Eur Urol. 1977;3(2):85-95. doi: 10.1159/000472066.


Although a considerable amount of quantitative biochemical data of the prostatic gland is available the current morphological information is restricted up to now to descriptive findings. Stereology is the application of mathematical axioms and allows one to quantitate three-dimensional structures from the measurement of two-dimensional cross sections thereof. The stereological techniques provide values for volumes, surfaces and number of tissue and glandular cellular components found within the prostatic gland. Four examples are presented to illustrate how quantitative morphology can be applied to study prostatic function and disease. A stereological model, which provides information on the structure of the prostatic gland is shown for the rat prostate (ventral lobe). The model consists of morphologically defined space and membrane components of the prostatic gland and the glandular cell. The alteration, induced in the glandular cells of the ventral lobe of the rat prostate by administration of a synthetic progestine (ethinyl-norgestrienone) were studied by stereological methods. An attempt was made to quantify the morphological aspects of both, the epithelial and stromal components of the normal human prostate (3rd decade of life) and of benign prostatic hyperplasia. In comparing the stereological data of the glandular prostatic cell in the normal human prostate with that in benign prostatic hyperplasia, a diminished secretory activity of the glandular cell in benign prostatic hyperplasia is indicated. A high volume density of the fibromuscular tissue, as well as an activation of the smooth muscle cell in the fibromuscular tissue is observed in benign prostatic hyperplasia.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mathematics
  • Methods
  • Models, Structural
  • Prostate / ultrastructure*
  • Prostatic Hyperplasia / pathology*
  • Rats