Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Medical Biophysics


Aaron D. Ward

2nd Supervisor

J. Geoffrey Pickering

Joint Supervisor


Histology of the microvasculature depicts detailed characteristics relevant to tissue perfusion. One important histologic feature is the smooth muscle component of the microvessel wall, which is responsible for controlling vessel caliber. Abnormalities can cause disease and organ failure, as seen in hypertensive retinopathy, diabetic ischemia, Alzheimer’s disease and improper cardiovascular development. However, assessments of smooth muscle cell content are conventionally performed on selected fields of view on 2D sections, which may lead to measurement bias. We have developed a software platform for automated (1) 3D vascular reconstruction, (2) detection and segmentation of muscularized microvessels, (3) classification of vascular subtypes, and (4) simulation of function through blood flow modeling. Vessels were stained for α-actin using 3,3'-Diaminobenzidine, assessing both normal (n=9 mice) and regenerated vasculature (n=5 at day 14, n=4 at day 28). 2D locally adaptive segmentation involved vessel detection, skeletonization, and fragment connection. 3D reconstruction was performed using our novel nucleus landmark-based registration. Arterioles and venules were categorized using supervised machine learning based on texture and morphometry. Simulation of blood flow for the normal and regenerated vasculature was performed at baseline and during demand based on the structural measures obtained from the above tools. Vessel medial area and vessel wall thickness were found to be greater in the normal vasculature as compared to the regenerated vasculature (p<0.001) and a higher density of arterioles was found in the regenerated tissue (p<0.05). Validation showed: a Dice coefficient of 0.88 (compared to manual) for the segmentations, a 3D reconstruction target registration error of 4 μm, and area under the receiver operator curve of 0.89 for vessel classification. We found 89% and 67% decreases in the blood flow through the network for the regenerated vasculature during increased oxygen demand as compared to the normal vasculature, respectively for 14 and 28 days post-ischemia. We developed a software platform for automated vasculature histology analysis involving 3D reconstruction, segmentation, and arteriole vs. venule classification. This advanced the knowledge of conventional histology sampling compared to whole slide analysis, the morphological and density differences in the regenerated vasculature, and the effect of the differences on blood flow and function.

Available for download on Saturday, June 01, 2019