IMR Press / FBE / Volume 5 / Issue 2 / DOI: 10.2741/E635

Frontiers in Bioscience-Elite (FBE) is published by IMR Press from Volume 13 Issue 2 (2021). Previous articles were published by another publisher on a subscription basis, and they are hosted by IMR Press on as a courtesy and upon agreement with Frontiers in Bioscience.


Semi-automatic determination of cell surface areas used in systems biology

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1 BIOSS Centre for Biological Signaling Studies, University of Freiburg, Germany
2 Department of Molecular Immunology, Max Planck-Institute of Immunobiology and Institute of Biology III, Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany
3 Computer Science Department, Technical Faculty, University of Freiburg, Germany
4 Department of Cell Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg, Germany
5 Spemann Graduate School of Biology and Medicine, SGBM, University of Freiburg, Germany
6 Physics Institute, University of Freiburg, Germany
7 Centre for Chronic Immunodeficiency CCI, University Clinics Freiburg and Medical Faculty, University of Freiburg, Germany
8 Centre for Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, University Medical Center Freiburg

*Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.


Front. Biosci. (Elite Ed) 2013, 5(2), 533–545;
Published: 1 January 2013

Quantitative biology requires high precision measurement of cellular parameters such as surface areas or volumes. Here, we have developed an integrated approach in which the data from 3D confocal microscopy and 2D high-resolution transmission electron microscopy were combined. The volumes and diameters of the cells within one population were automatically measured from the confocal data sets. The perimeter of the cell slices was measured in the TEM images using a semi-automated segmentation into background, cytoplasm and nucleus. These data in conjunction with approaches from stereology allowed for an unbiased estimate of surface areas with high accuracy. We have determined the volumes and surface areas of the cells and nuclei of six different immune cell types. In mast cells for example, the resulting cell surface was 3.5 times larger than the theoretical surface assuming the cell was a sphere with the same volume. Thus, our accurate data can now serve as inputs in modeling approaches in systems immunology.

Systems biology
B cell
Mast cell
T cell
Pattern recognition
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