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Methods. 2001 Aug;24(4):331-9.

Analysis of fractal dimension of O2A glial cells differentiating in vitro.

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  • 1Laboratory of Neurophysiology, National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, Bethesda, Maryland 20892, USA. Toby@codon.nih.gov

Abstract

Fractal dimension is a quantitative measure of morphological complexity. Glial cells of the oligodendrocyte-type 2 astrocyte (O2A) lineage exhibit increasing morphological complexity as they differentiate in vitro. Enriched populations of O2A progenitor cells isolated from neonatal rat cerebral hemispheres or optic nerves were allowed to differentiate in vitro, and their fractal dimensions were measured over time. The fractal dimensions of the maturing cells correlated with perceived complexity; cells with elaborate process branching had larger fractal dimensions than cells with a simpler morphology. An analysis of changes in fractal dimension revealed distinct rates of growth for both oligodendrocytes and type 2 astrocytes. The fractal dimension remained constant over a 10-fold range in optical magnification, demonstrating that cultured O2A glial cells exhibit self-similarity, a defining characteristic of fractal objects. These results illustrate that fractal dimension analysis of maturing cell populations is a useful method for quantitatively describing the process of cell differentiation.

Copyright 2001 Academic Press.

PMID:
11465998
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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