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Brain Res. 2000 Sep 22;877(2):209-17.

Assessing accurate sizes of synaptic vesicles in nerve terminals.

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  • 1Department of Mathematics, University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY 40506-0027, USA.


Chemical synaptic transmission occurs when vesicles within a presynaptic neuron fuse to the membrane and release their neurotransmitter content into the synaptic cleft, eliciting a response in the postsynaptic cell. If concentration of neurotransmitter is the same in all synaptic vesicles, the volume of the vesicle determines how much transmitter is released. Thus, variation in vesicular volume may contribute to observed variance of synaptic quantal unit size. The present study provides an approach to more fully and accurately characterize the dimensions of synaptic vesicles within a population containing varied sizes of vesicles. The methodology can be applied in a wide range of stereological problems. The approach characterizes the distribution of vesicle sizes within a population and provides a means to assess effects of experimental manipulations on vesicle dimensions. The mathematical treatments to obtain the true distribution of vesicle sizes involve extraction of the observed distribution from an enlarged population containing smaller vesicle diameters produced by sectioning of the specimens. A FORTRAN program is provided.

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