In biomedical research, it is essential to gain accurate knowledge about cells, tissues or organs. To this point, a standard procedure is to use histological sections and microscopy. However, when analyzing 2D sections it is extremely important to realize that structures image seen in the microscope or on a whole slide image does not directly represent what was present in the living tissue.
Stereology provides efficient practical techniques for obtaining 3D quantities from 2D sections – such as cell number and volume. The methods are statistically proven and the study is consequently unbiased by design – i.e. there are no assumptions, models or correction factors involved.
The use of stereology is often avoided because of how time consuming it can be. However, a recent publication highlights how productivity can be improved greatly using digital pathology and Visiopharm’s stereology solutions- the Autodisector and Proportionator. Compared to traditional stereology methods, the Proportionator was 50% to 90% more time efficient than systematic, uniform random sampling. The time efficiency of the Autodisector on virtual slides was 60% to 100% better than the disector on tissue slides. The publication was released in the Journal of Microscopy. Access is available through Wiley Online Library, download it here.
Cell counting in stereology is time-consuming. The proportionator is a new stereological sampling method combining automatic image analysis and non-uniform sampling. The autodisector on virtual slides combines automatic generation of disector pairs with the use of digital images. The aim of the study was to investigate the time efficiency of the proportionator and the autodisector on virtual slides compared with traditional methods in a practical application, namely the estimation of osteoclast numbers in paws from mice with experimental arthritis and control mice. Tissue slides were scanned in a digital slide scanner and the autodisector was applied on the obtained virtual tissue slides. Every slide was partitioned into fields of view, and cells were counted in all of them. Based on the original exhaustive data set comprising 100% of fields of view and covering the total section area, a proportionator sampling and a systematic, uniform random sampling were simulated. We found that the proportionator was 50% to 90% more time efficient than systematic, uniform random sampling. The time efficiency of the autodisector on virtual slides was 60% to 100% better than the disector on tissue slides. We conclude that both the proportionator and the autodisector on virtual slides may improve efficiency of cell counting in stereology.