This study presents a tool, Neuronize, for building realistic three-dimensional models of neuronal cells from the morphological information extracted through computer-aided tracing applications. Neuronize consists of a set of methods designed to build 3D neural meshes that approximate the cell membrane at different resolution levels, allowing a balance to be reached between the complexity and the quality of the final model. The main contribution of the present study is the proposal of a novel approach to build a realistic and accurate 3D shape of the soma from the incomplete information stored in the digitally traced neuron, which usually consists of a 2D cell body contour. This technique is based on the deformation of an initial shape driven by the position and thickness of the first order dendrites. The addition of a set of spines along the dendrites completes the model, building a final 3D neuronal cell suitable for its visualization in a wide range of 3D environments.
Keywords: 3D models; dendritic structure; morphology simulation; multiresolution visualization approach; pyramidal cells; virtual dendrites.