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Alteration of lens and retina textures from mice embryos with folic acid deficiency: image processing analysis



Folic acid (FA) is an essential vitamin for embryonic development. It plays particularly a critical role in RNA, DNA and protein synthesis. On the other hand, the collagen IV and laminin-1 are important proteins during embryonic development. This study was done to find if FA deficiency at a short and a long term in mothers could alter the tissue texture of retina and lens of the progeny.


Collagen IV and laminin-1 were localized by immunohistochemistry in the lens and retina of the FA-deficient embryos. To carry out the image processing, texture segmentation was performed through canny edge detection and Fourier transform (FT). We defined a parameter, the grain size, to describe the texture of the lens and retina. A bootstrap method to estimate the distribution and confidence intervals of the mean, standard deviation, skewness and kurtosis of the grain size has been developed.


Analysis through image processing using Matlab showed changes in the grain size between control- and FA-deficient groups in both studied molecules. Measures of texture based on FT exhibited changes in the directionality and arrangements of type IV collagen and laminin-1.


Changes introduced by FA deficiency were visible in the short term (2 weeks) and evident in the long term (8 weeks) in both grain size and orientation of fibre structures in the tissues analysed (lens and retina). This is the first work devoted to study the effect of FA deficit in the texture of eye tissues using image processing techniques.

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The authors thank Alda Serrano Javier from Optics Department for reviewing the draft of the paper and for his helpful suggestions and comments on this manuscript. The authors would also like to acknowledge Dolores Arroyo and Alicia Cerro from the Anatomy and Human Embryology Department for their excellent technical assistance.


This study was supported by grants to the Complutense Research Group 920202 from the Spanish Ministry of Health (PI06/0184 and PS09/01762). Likewise, it was supported by grants from the Spanish Ministry of Economy and competitiveness (TEC2013-40442). Finally, this article was done with a pre-doctoral fellowship awarded by Complutense University of Madrid and Santander bank (reference number CT27/16–CT28/16).

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Correspondence to Ouafa Sijilmassi.

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Animal experiments: All applicable international, national, and/or institutional guidelines for the care and use of animals were followed. All procedures performed in studies involving animals were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Animal Experimentation Committee of the Universidad Complutense of Madrid (UCM). The mice were maintained at animal house of the School of Medicine at the UCM.

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Sijilmassi, O., López-Alonso, J.M., Barrio Asensio, M.D. et al. Alteration of lens and retina textures from mice embryos with folic acid deficiency: image processing analysis. Graefes Arch Clin Exp Ophthalmol 257, 111–123 (2019).

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  • Folic acid deficiency
  • Type IV collagen
  • Laminin-1
  • Matlab texture analysis
  • Retina
  • Lens