Fractal analysis of extracellular matrix for observer-independent quantification of intestinal fibrosis in Crohn’s disease

Marie Christin Weber, Konstantin Schmidt, Annalisa Buck, Atsuko Kasajima, Simon Becker, Chunqiao Li, Stefan Reischl, Dirk Wilhelm, Katja Steiger, Helmut Friess, Philipp Alexander Neumann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Prevention of intestinal fibrosis remains an unresolved problem in the treatment of Crohn’s disease (CD), as specific antifibrotic therapies are not yet available. Appropriate analysis of fibrosis severity is essential for assessing the therapeutic efficacy of potential antifibrotic drugs. The aim of this study was to develop an observer-independent method to quantify intestinal fibrosis in surgical specimens from patients with CD using structural analysis of the extracellular matrix (ECM). We performed fractal analysis in fibrotic and control histological sections of patients with surgery for CD (n = 28). To specifically assess the structure of the collagen matrix, polarized light microscopy was used. A score to quantify collagen fiber alignment and the color of the polarized light was established. Fractal dimension as a measure for the structural complexity correlated significantly with the histological fibrosis score whereas lacunarity as a measure for the compactness of the ECM showed a negative correlation. Polarized light microscopy to visualize the collagen network underlined the structural changes in the ECM network in advanced fibrosis. In conclusion, observer-independent quantification of the structural complexity of the ECM by fractal analysis is a suitable method to quantify the degree of intestinal fibrosis in histological samples from patients with CD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3988
JournalScientific Reports
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2024
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Fractal dimension analysis
  • Histology
  • Intestinal fibrosis

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