Characterizing spatial distributions of astrocytes in the mammalian retina
Motivation: In addition to being involved in retinal vascular growth, astrocytes play an important role in diseases and injuries, such as glaucomatous neuro-degeneration and retinal detachment. Studying astrocytes, their morphological cell characteristics and their spatial relationships to the surrounding vasculature in the retina may elucidate their role in these conditions.
Results: Our results show that in normal healthy retinas, the distribution of observed astrocyte cells does not follow a uniform distribution. The cells are significantly more densely packed around the blood vessels than a uniform distribution would predict. We also show that compared with the distribution of all cells, large cells are more dense in the vicinity of veins and toward the optic nerve head whereas smaller cells are often more dense in the vicinity of arteries. We hypothesize that since veinal astrocytes are known to transport toxic metabolic waste away from neurons they may be more critical than arterial astrocytes and therefore require larger cell bodies to process waste more efficiently.
Availability and implementation: A 1/8th size down-sampled version of the seven retinal image mosaics described in this article can be found on BISQUE (Kvilekval et al., 2010) at http://bisque.ece.ucsb.edu/client_service/view?resource=http://bisque.ec... dataset/6566968.