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Fractal morphometry of cell complexity.

Authors
Type
Published Article
Journal
Rivista di biologia
Publication Date
Volume
95
Issue
2
Pages
239–258
Identifiers
PMID: 12449683
Source
Medline

Abstract

Irregularity and self-similarity under scale changes are the main attributes of the morphological complexity of both normal and abnormal cells and tissues. In other words, the shape of a self-similar object does not change when the scale of measurement changes, because each part of it looks similar to the original object. However, the size and geometrical parameters of an irregular object do differ when it is examined at increasing resolution, which reveals more details. Significant progress has been made over the past three decades in understanding how irregular shapes and structures in the physical and biological sciences can be analysed. Dominant influences have been the discovery of a new practical geometry of Nature, now known as fractal geometry, and the continuous improvements in computation capabilities. Unlike conventional Euclidean geometry, which was developed to describe regular and ideal geometrical shapes which are practically unknown in nature, fractal geometry can be used to measure the fractal dimension, contour length, surface area and other dimension parameters of almost all irregular and complex biological tissues. We have used selected examples to illustrate the application of the fractal principle to measuring irregular and complex membrane ultrastructures of cells at specific functional and pathological stage.

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