The Most Comprehensive Source of Stereology Information on the Web

Stereology Information for the Biological Sciences

This site introduces both basic and advanced concepts of Stereology. The emphasis is on the use of stereology in biological research, though anyone interested in learning concepts of stereology will find something of interest. The application of stereological methods to biological studies permits researchers to effectively and efficiently gather unbiased, accurate data. This site is dedicated to helping researchers understand the principles of design-based stereology and its advantages over less sophisticated approaches in quantitative histology.

What is Stereology?

Design-based stereology is a set of methods to ensure rigorous quantitative analysis of the size, shape, and number of objects. When properly used, stereology plays an important role in validating and rejecting experimental hypotheses in biological research. It produces results that are unbiased, efficient, and more reliable than other ad hoc quantitative analyses. Unbiased stereology provides an important contribution to the advancement in biological research by improving the consistency and dependability of quantitative analytical results produced in the laboratory and reported in scientific publications.

An Introduction to Stereology Probes

The most modern unbiased stereology probes are used to quantify aspects of biological tissue in a reproducible and efficient manner. These stereological probes are appropriate for many fields of basic and applied biological and medical research. These probes should always be used in conjunction with systematic random sampling.

OPTICAL FRACTIONATOR to estimate NUMBER of cells

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Estimate the size of cell populations with the optical fractionator in thick tissue sections. In this probe, sub-volumes are sampled and then are extrapolated to arrive at an estimate of the entire cell population. A virtual space called an optical disector is used in thick sections that can be oriented anyway you like. Disector counting rules are followed to avoid overestimating, and an oil objective lens is employed for imaging, since fine z-resolution is needed to find the leading edge of the cell and to have enough focal planes to determine if it is in the disector. Note: avoid counting pieces of cells when you really want to count whole cells.    OPTICAL FRACTIONATOR

 

NUCLEATOR to estimate VOLUME of cells

Estimate individual cell volumnucleator-2es with the nucleator. A point in the cell is identified, then one to four rays are marked and their mean length is used in the formula for the volume of a sphere, generating an estimate of the cell volume. The volume estimate is number-weighted; the sampling is done with a disector in thick sections so that it is not more likely to sample larger cells than smaller cells. It is important to use a method to select cells without bias by picking them in a manner that does not favor any position of the cell in space; you won’t overestimate by sampling too many larger cross-sections or underestimate by sampling too many smaller cross-sections.    NUCLEATOR

 

CAVALIERI POINT-COUNTING to estimate VOLUME of regions

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This probe is versatile in that it can be used on thin optical or physical sections that are oriented according to the preference of the researcher. A fraction of the tissue is marked with points over the region(s) of interest, and an extrapolation is carried out to arrive at the estimate. Unbiased estimates of regional volume are easy to obtain efficiently using Cavalieri point-counting.     CAVALIERI/POINT-COUNTING

 

SPACEBALLS to estimate LENGTH of fibers and vessels

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Estimate length of biological filaments such as axons or blood vessels without facing the herculean task of tracing them all. Instead the intersections of the filaments with a virtual sphere are marked and converted to a length estimate. Thick sections may be oriented as the researcher prefers. This probe is implemented along with the fractionator method; a volume-fraction is sampled and extrapolated using the reciprocal of the volume fraction to arrive at the estimate of length.    SPACEBALLS

 

ISOTROPIC FAKIR to estimate SURFACE of membranes

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To estimate surface area, a triplet of line segments that has the property of being isotropic in space is used to probe in thick sections. Intersections of the triplet with the surface are counted and a formula is used to arrive at an estimate of the surface area; the more intersections recorded the greater the surface. Like the other regional probes on this page, thick, preferentially oriented sections are used and the fractionator method works to make an extrapolation based on the fraction of volume that was sampled.     ISOTROPIC FAKIR

more probes including solutions for thin tissue sections

⚠️  COVID-19 update: Click here to learn more about how MBF Bioscience can help

 

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Recent Noteworthy Stereology Publications

Published papers using unbiased stereology; last updated on 10.29.2020.

starindicates that the researchers did a good job reporting stereological parameters. To see what parameters should be reported click here.

The MHC class II transactivator modulates seeded alpha-synuclein pathology and dopaminergic neurodegeneration in an in vivo rat model of Parkinson’s disease

Accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles and activated microglia is associated with lower neuron densities in the aphasic variant of Alzheimer’s disease

Toxoplasma gondii infection damages the perineuronal nets in a murine model

Pharmacokinetic, behavioral, and brain activity effects of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in adolescent male and female rats

Chronic Memantine Treatment Ameliorates Behavioral Deficits, Neuron Loss, and Impaired Neurogenesis in a Model of Alzheimer’s Disease

Effects of ovariectomy on inputs from the medial preoptic area to the ventromedial nucleus of the hypothalamus of young adult rats

Quantification of neurons in the hippocampal formation of chimpanzees: comparison to rhesus monkeys and humans

starSteps towards standardized quantification of adult neurogenesis

Retinal Ganglion Cell Topography and Spatial Resolving Power in Echolocating and Non-Echolocating Bats

Maternal, Placental, and Fetal Responses to Intermittent Heat Exposure During Late Gestation in Mice

Caffeine Restores Background EEG Activity Independent of Infarct Reduction after Neonatal Hypoxic Ischemic Brain Injury

Quantitative T2 MRI is predictive of neurodegeneration following organophosphate exposure in a rat model

Continue reading “Recent Noteworthy Stereology publications”

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Recent Webinar

Date: April 21, 2020

Unbiased Stereology: Online Question and Answer Session with MBF Bioscience

Dr. Dan Peruzzi, stereology educator and staff scientist at MBF Bioscience, covers both theoretical and practical aspects regarding the use of unbiased stereology to quantify morphological parameters of tissue observed under a microscope or a slide scanner.

Topics include:
  • “First order” properties such as number, length, surface, and volume
  • “Second order” properties concerning the relationship among objects
Date: May 20, 2020

Unbiased Stereology: Second Online Question and Answer Session with MBF Bioscience

Dr. Dan Peruzzi, stereology educator and staff scientist at MBF Bioscience, covers both theoretical and practical aspects regarding the use of unbiased stereology to quantify morphological parameters of tissue observed under a microscope or a slide scanner.

Topics include:

  • estimating volume
  • estimating length
  • considerations for using thin sections for estimates of morphological parameters in brain sections and pulmonary tissue

 

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