Temporal changes in cytoskeletal organisation within isolated chondrocytes quantified using a novel image analysis technique

  • M. M. KnightEmail author
  • B. D. Idowu
  • D. A. Lee
  • D. L. Bader


This paper examines temporal changes in the organisation of the cytoskeleton within isolated articular chondrocytes cultured for up to 7 days in agarose constructs. Fluorescent labelling and confocal microscopy were employed to visualise microtubules (MT), vimentin intermediate filaments (VIF) and actin microfilaments (AMF). To quantify the degree of cytoskeletal organisation within populations of cells, a novel image analysis technique has been developed, and fully characterised. Organisation was quantified in terms of an Edge Index, which reflects the density of ‘edges’ present within the confocal images as defined by a Sobel digital filter. This parameter was shown to be independent of image intensity and, for all three cytoskeletal components, was validated statistically against a visual assessment of organisation. Both MT and VIF exhibited fibrous networks extending throughout the cytoplasm, while AMF appeared as punctate units associated with the cell membrane. The use of the Edge Index parameter revealed statistical significant temporal variation, in particular associated with VIF and AMF. These findings indicate the possibility of cytoskeletal mediated temporal variation in many aspects of cell behaviour following isolation from the intact tissue. Furthermore, the image analysis techniques are likely to be useful for future studies aiming to quantify changes in cytoskeletal organisation.


Cytoskeleton Quantification Image analysis Confocal Chondrocyte Actin Microtubules Vimentin 


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Copyright information

© IFMBE 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • M. M. Knight
    • 1
    Email author
  • B. D. Idowu
    • 1
  • D. A. Lee
    • 1
  • D. L. Bader
    • 1
  1. 1.Interdisciplinary Research Centre in Biomedical Materials, Queen MaryUniversity of LondonLondonUK

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