Background: Angiogenesis is of major interest in developmental biology and cancer research. Different experimental approaches are available to study angiogenesis that have in common the need for microscopy, image acquisition, and analysis. Problems that are encountered hereby are the size of the structures, which requires generation of composite images and difficulties in quantifying angiogenic activity reliably and rapidly. Most graphic software packages lack some of the required functions for easy, semiautomatic quantification of angiogenesis and, consequently, multiple software packages or expensive programs have to be used to cover all necessary functions. Methods and Results: A software package (AQuaL) to analyze angiogenic activity was developed using Java, which can be used platform-independently. It includes image acquisition relying on the Java Media Framework and an easy to use image alignment tool. Multiple overlapping images can be aligned and saved without limitations and loss of resolution into a composite image, which requires only the selection of a single point representing a characteristic structure in adjacent images. Angiogenic activity can be quantified in composite images semiautomatically by the assessment of the area overgrown by cells after filtering and image binarization. In addition, tagging of capillary-like structures allows quantification of their length and branching pattern. Both developed methods deliver reliable and correlating data as exemplified in the aortic ring angiogenesis assay. Conclusion: The developed software provides modular functions specifically targeted to quantify angiogenesis. Whereas the area measurement is time saving, length measurement provides additional information about the branching patterns, which is required for a qualitative differentiation of capillary growth.
Research Areas and Centers
- Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)