Image Analysis

Image analysis involves the computer-assisted quantification of various measurement parameters performed on digital color or black and white photographs of histologic sections. Typical measurement parameters include object counts, linear measurements, area measurements, and relative color intensities. Image analysis has proven valuable in studies that concern the identification and documentation of subtle induced changes in tissues; for example, successful determination of the effects of a growth-promoting agent on the lengths of intestinal villi and the depths of intestinal crypts. Compared to the less precise or more laborious “manual” quantification methods it replaces (e.g. semi-quantitative grading systems, microscope stage quantification), analysis has numerous potential advantages, including improved objectivity and consistency, enhanced sensitivity, and shorter turnaround times, especially for projects in which measurements can be automated. Additionally, image analysis provides a permanent record of the data and of data collection, produces results that are highly amenable to statistical  analysis, and allows the user to collect data that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to obtain (e.g., area measurements of irregular objects).

Although almost anything that can be imaged can be analyzed with these tools, optimal results are achieved when studies are designed as image analysis projects from the ground up. Consistent and good quality sampling is essential, from the necropsy phase through the actual quantitative assessment. This can only occur when trained personnel are utilized and carefully planned SOPs are followed.

Examples of Digital Imaging Projects

  • Immunohistochemical labeling for cell proliferation or cell death
  • Areas of tissue reaction to implanted devices
  • Comparative intestinal wall thickness (villus heights, crypts depths)
  • Linear measurements for developmental neurotoxicity studies
  • Differential counts of germinal cell types in gonad sections
  • Quantification of electrophoretic gel intensities
  • Determination of tumor (or granuloma) sizes and numbers
  • Thyroid gland follicle sizes during development or endocrine modulation
  • Ultrastructural studies of peripheral nerve demyelination
  • Whole-body growth studies

Benefits of EPL’s Services

  • Projects designed, supervised, and results evaluated by toxicologic pathologists
  • Trained technical staff
  • Multiple digital image workstations
  • Up-to-date advanced image analysis software
    • Ability to automate data collection for some projects (saves time, decreases cost, improves objectivity)
    • Professional reports
  • In-house quality assurance auditing
  • Integration with full-service, on-site histology laboratory
  • Integration with immunohistochemical and special techniques laboratories
  • Integration with sample and data archiving services
  • Statistical analysis available

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