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Methods Mol Biol. 2010;611:211-25. doi: 10.1007/978-1-60327-345-9_17.

Image analysis and quantitative morphology.

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Laboratory of Morphometry and Cardiovascular Morphology, Institute of Biology, Biomedical Center, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.


Quantitative studies are increasingly found in the literature, particularly in the fields of development/evolution, pathology, and neurosciences. Image digitalization converts tissue images into a numeric form by dividing them into very small regions termed picture elements or pixels. Image analysis allows automatic morphometry of digitalized images, and stereology aims to understand the structural inner three-dimensional arrangement based on the analysis of slices showing two-dimensional information. To quantify morphological structures in an unbiased and reproducible manner, appropriate isotropic and uniform random sampling of sections, and updated stereological tools are needed. Through the correct use of stereology, a quantitative study can be performed with little effort; efficiency in stereology means as little counting as possible (little work), low cost (section preparation), but still good accuracy. This short text provides a background guide for non-expert morphologists.

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