Distribution of membrane thickness determined by lineal analysis

J Microsc. 1978 May;113(1):27-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2818.1978.tb00091.x.


The expected statistical distributions of intercept length are derived in terms of geometrical probability density functions pertaining to plates with known thickness penetrated by lines with random orientation. These expressions provide arithmetic and graphical solutions for obtaining distributions of membrane thickness and reciprocal membrane thickness from empirical distributions of intercept lengths. Furthermore, general relationships between probability density functions of distributions of intercept length and membrane thickness are derived as well as those between their moments. Examples of the application of the method to biological samples are given, and estimated distributions of glomerular basement membrane thickness are compared to those obtained by an independent, direct method. Various sources of bias, which in practice may occur due to departures from the sample model, are discussed and the influence of some of them is estimated. The knowledge of the probability density function of reciprocal intercepts makes it possible to perform a correction of the distribution of measured intercept length, which to some extent eliminates bias.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Basement Membrane / ultrastructure*
  • Cattle
  • Diabetes Mellitus / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Kidney Glomerulus / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron*
  • Models, Biological
  • Rats
  • Statistics as Topic / methods*