Counting cells with stereology: Random versus serial sectioning

John F. Bertram, Robert P. Bolender

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Counts of cells and nuclei from sections provide information central to studying structural changes in cells, tissues, and organs. This study considers some of the practical problems associated with counting cells with the newer random and serial sectioning methods of stereology and tests the hypothesis that similar cell counts can be obtained with both random and serial sectioning methods. Using irregularly shaped nuclei from alveolar cells of the goat lung, we compared cell counts derived from random (electron microscopic) and serial sectioning (light microscopic) methods. The results showed that both sectioning methods gave similar cell counts (107/cm3 of parenchyma) for type 1 epithelial cells (5.0 vs. 5.0; P=1.0), type 2 epithelial cells (8.6 vs. 9.8; P=0.42) and interstitial cells (34.6 vs. 33.4; P=0.64), provided that corrections were introduced for sectionrelated biases and that the nuclei of the random sectioning method were corrected for shape. We found counting biases of 5%7% for nuclear shape and 16% for section compression. These observations support the hypothesis that similar cell counts can be obtained with random and serial sectioning, even when nuclei have irregular shapes. Copyright1990 WileyLiss, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-38
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Electron Microscopy Technique
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1990
Externally publishedYes


  • Cell counts
  • Electron microscopy
  • Lung
  • Nuclear shape
  • Section compression

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