Morphometric Analysis of Infant and Adult Medullary Nuclei Through Optical Disector Method



In the literature, comprehensive and comparative morphometric studies of infant and adult medullary nuclei performed with unbiased methods are still lacking. In this study, the unbiased quantitative method of the optical disector was applied to analyze neuronal densities, nuclear volumes, and total neuron numbers of the hypoglossal nucleus (XII), dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus (DMNV), nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS), medial vestibular nucleus (MedVe), cuneate nucleus (Cu), nucleus of the spinal trigeminal tract, principal inferior olivary nucleus (PION), medial inferior olivary nucleus (MION), and dorsal inferior olivary nucleus (DION) in adults (16 male, six female; mean age: 37 years) and infants (five male, five female; mean age: 5 months). In both infants and adults, higher neuronal densities were found in the more ventrally located nuclei of the spinal trigeminal tract (mean values (coefficient of variation): 20,947 (0.29) and 8,990 (0.18) neurons/mm3, respectively) and inferior olivary complex (PION: 20,010 (0.15) and 9,076 (0.10); MION: 18,667 (0.20) and 9,989 (0.13); DION: 22,424 (0.17) and 10,986 (0.20), respectively) than in the nuclei of the medullary tegmentum, that is, XII (2,747 (0.39) and 1,026 (0.31)), DMNV (2,876 (0.19) and 1,553 (0.26)), NTS (7,993 (0.17) and 2,877 (0.13)), MedVe (7,010 (0.17) and 2,918 (0.12)), and Cu (2,563 (0.23) and 1,038 (0.16)). All the medullary nuclei showed higher volumes and lower neuronal densities in adults than in infants, without statistically significant differences in total neuron numbers, probably because of postnatal development of the neuropil and microvascularization. Anat Rec, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.