Application of the radial distribution functions for quantitative analysis of neuropil microstructure in stratum radiatum of CA1 region in hippocampus

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Yuriy Mishchenko


Various structures in the brain contain important clues to the brain’s development and function. Among these, the microscopic organization of neural tissue is of particular interest since such organization directly affects the formation of local synaptic connectivity between axons and dendrites, serving as a potential factor in the brain’s development. While the organization of the brain at large and intermediate lengths had been well studied, the organization of neural tissue at scales of micrometers remains largely unknown. In particular, at present it is not known what specific structures exist in neuropil at those scales, what effect such structures have on the formation of synaptic connectivity in the brain, and what processes shape the small-scale organization of neuropil. In this work, we present an analysis of recent 3D electron microscopy reconstructions of blocks of tissue of hippocampal CA1 neuropil from rat s. radiatum to offer new insights into these questions. We propose a new statistical method for systematical analysis of the small-scale organization of neuropil, based on an adaptation of the approach of radial distribution functions from statistical physics. Our results show that the micrometer-scale organization of hippocampal CA1 neuropil can be well understood as a disordered arrangement of axonal and dendritic processes without significant small-scale coordination. We observe several deviations from this picture in the distributions of glia and dendritic spines, and discuss their significance. Finally, we shed some light on the relationship between the small-scale organization of neuropil and local synaptic connectivity.

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MISHCHENKO, Yuriy. Application of the radial distribution functions for quantitative analysis of neuropil microstructure in stratum radiatum of CA1 region in hippocampus. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], n. 4, aug. 2016. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <>. Date accessed: 25 mar. 2023.
neuropil organization; neuroanatomy; electron microscopy; neurodegeneration; radial distribution function;
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