Automated analyses of neuronal morphology are important for quantifying connectivity and circuitry in vivo, as well as in high content imaging of primary neuron cultures. The currently available tools for quantification of neuronal morphology either are highly expensive commercial packages or cannot provide automated image quantifications at single cell resolution. Here, we describe a new software package called WIS-NeuroMath, which fills this gap and provides solutions for automated measurement of neuronal processes in both in vivo and in vitro preparations. Diverse image types can be analyzed without any preprocessing, enabling automated and accurate detection of neurites followed by their quantification in a number of application modules. A cell morphology module detects cell bodies and attached neurites, providing information on neurite length, number of branches, cell body area, and other parameters for each cell. A neurite length module provides a solution for images lacking cell bodies, such as tissue sections. Finally, a ganglion explant module quantifies outgrowth by identifying neurites at different distances from the ganglion. Quantification of a diverse series of preparations with WIS-NeuroMath provided data that were well matched with parallel analyses of the same preparations in established software packages such as MetaXpress or NeuronJ. The capabilities of WIS-NeuroMath are demonstrated in a range of applications, including in dissociated and explant cultures and histological analyses on thin and whole-mount sections. WIS-NeuroMath is freely available to academic users, providing a versatile and cost-effective range of solutions for quantifying neurite growth, branching, regeneration, or degeneration under different experimental paradigms.
Copyright © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.