The basic stereological formulas for estimating volume (Vv) and surface (Sv) densities are strictly valid only for true infinitely thin sections; the use of "ultrathin" sections of finite thickness T introduces systematic errors, mostly in the sense of overestimation of the parameters. These errors depend on the size and shape of the structural elements and on T. Correction factors for this effect of T are derived by considering model structures that simulate the shape and arrangement of subcellular organelles: (a) spherical vesicles, (b) disks as models for rough endoplasmic reticulum (RER) cisternae, (c) cylindrical tublules as models for smooth endoplasmic reticulum (SER) tubules, microvilli, etc. For vesicles, a model of discrete convex spherical particles is assumed; the correction factors consider loss of caps due to grazing sections and size distribution of the vesicles. The disk and tubule models are used in connection with the new integral geometric formulas of R.E. Miles which consider random aggregates of "inter-penetrating" particles so that the resultant structure is non-convex and thus approximates in nature the networks characteristic of endoplasmic reticulum (ER). Some practical examples relative to liver cells show that the errors due to section thickness may be of the order of 20-40% or more. Computation formulas as well as graphs are given for the determination of the correction factors for Vv and Sv.
Integrated stereological and biochemical studies on hepatocytic membranes. II. Correction of section thickness effect on volume and surface density estimates
ER Weibel, D Paumgartner; Integrated stereological and biochemical studies on hepatocytic membranes. II. Correction of section thickness effect on volume and surface density estimates. J Cell Biol 1 May 1978; 77 (2): 584–597. doi: https://doi.org/10.1083/jcb.77.2.584
Download citation file: