Quantitation of cell area on glass and fibronectin-coated surfaces by digital image analysis.
By using digital image processing and analysis, two procedures were developed to rapidly measure the projected area of a field of adherent 3T3 fibroblasts without staining of cell borders. The cell area of newly attached and rounded cells with well-resolved borders was obtained by a gray value thresholding procedure. For cells that had undergone an appreciable degree of spreading, cell boundaries were less distinct and a nonlinear spatial Sobel filter was used, followed by thresholding. For both procedures, linear relations were observed between cell areas obtained from image analysis and cell areas obtained by tracing. The areas of a population of traced cells were not statistically different from the area distribution obtained by using the standard curves for the processed images. Uncertainty in the estimated mean area depended only upon the number of cells examined. Approximate numbers of cells required to obtain estimates of the mean are calculated. As an application of these procedures, cell areas were measured for 3T3 cells attached to glass and fibronectin-coated surfaces and were found to be significantly larger for cells spreading on fibronectin-coated glass than on glass alone. Increased cell area during spreading on fibronectin-coated surfaces was proportional to increased cell adhesivity after exposure to a shear stress of 58 dyn/cm2.
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