Measuring the spatial arrangement patterns of pathological lesions in histological sections of brain tissue

Richard A. Armstrong

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The development of abnormal protein aggregates in the form of extracellular plaques and intracellular inclusions is a characteristic feature of many neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) and the fronto-temporal dementias (FTD). An important aspect of a pathological protein aggregate is its spatial topography in the tissue. Lesions may not be randomly distributed within a histological section but exhibit spatial pattern, a departure from randomness either towards regularity or clustering. Information on the spatial pattern of a lesion may be useful in elucidating its pathogenesis and in studying the relationships between different lesions. This article reviews the methods that have been used to study the spatial topography of lesions. These include simple tests of whether the distribution of a lesion departs significantly from random using randomized points or sample fields, and more complex methods that employ grids or transects of contiguous fields and which can detect the intensity of aggregation and the sizes, distribution and spacing of the clusters. The usefulness of these methods in elucidating the pathogenesis of protein aggregates in neurodegenerative disease is discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)229-237
Number of pages9
JournalFolia Neuropathologica
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2006

Bibliographical note

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  • spatial topography
  • neurodegenerative disease
  • protein aggregate
  • clustering
  • poisson distribution
  • variance
  • mean ratio


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