Automated Cell Detection and Morphometry on Growth Plate Images of Mouse Bone


Microscopy imaging of mouse growth plates is extensively used in biology to understand the effect of specific molecules on various stages of normal bone development and on bone disease. Until now, such image analysis has been conducted by manual detection. In fact, when existing automated detection techniques were applied, morphological variations across the growth plate and heterogeneity of image background color, including the faint presence of cells (chondrocytes) located deeper in tissue away from the image’s plane of focus, and lack of cell-specific features, interfered with identification of cells. We propose the first method of automated detection and morphometry applicable to images of cells in the growth plate of long bone. Through ad hoc sequential application of the Retinex method, anisotropic diffusion and thresholding, our new cell detection algorithm (CDA) addresses these challenges on bright-field microscopy images of mouse growth plates. Five parameters, chosen by the user in respect of image characteristics, regulate our CDA. Our results demonstrate effectiveness of the proposed numerical method relative to manual methods. Our CDA confirms previously established results regarding chondrocytes’ number, area, orientation, height and shape of normal growth plates. Our CDA also confirms differences previously found between the genetic mutated mouse Smad1/5CKO and its control mouse on fluorescence images. The CDA aims to aid biomedical research by increasing efficiency and consistency of data collection regarding arrangement and characteristics of chondrocytes. Our results suggest that automated extraction of data from microscopy imaging of growth plates can assist in unlocking information on normal and pathological development, key to the underlying biological mechanisms of bone growth.

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Ascenzi, M. , Du, X. , Harding, J. , Beylerian, E. , de Silva, B. , Gross, B. , Kastein, H. , Wang, W. , Lyons, K. and Schaeffer, H. (2014) Automated Cell Detection and Morphometry on Growth Plate Images of Mouse Bone. Applied Mathematics, 5, 2866-2880. doi: 10.4236/am.2014.518273.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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