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Ital J Neurol Sci. 1998 Aug;19(4):249-53.

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

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Department of Physiology and General Biochemistry, University of Milan, Italy.


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 Ramon 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.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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