GliaMorph: A modular image analysis toolkit to quantify Müller glial cell morphology

Elisabeth Kugler*, Isabel Bravo, Xhuljana Durmishi, Stefania Marcotti, Sara Beqiri, Alicia Carrington, Brian Stramer, Pierre Mattar, Ryan B MacDonald*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cell morphology is critical for all cell functions. This is particularly true for glial cells as they rely on complex shape to contact and support neurons. However, methods to quantify complex glial cell shape accurately and reproducibly are lacking. To address this, we developed the image analysis pipeline “GliaMorph”. GliaMorph is a modular analysis toolkit developed to perform (i) image pre-processing, (ii) semi-automatic region-of-interest (ROI) selection, (iii) apicobasal texture analysis, (iv) glia segmentation, and (v) cell feature quantification. Müller Glia (MG) have a stereotypic shape linked to their maturation and physiological status. We here characterized MG on three levels, including (a) global image-level, (b) apicobasal texture, and (c) regional apicobasal vertical-to-horizontal alignment. Using GliaMorph we quantified MG development on a global and single-cell level, showing increased feature elaboration and subcellular morphological rearrangement in the zebrafish retina. As proof-of-principle, we analysed expression changes in a mouse glaucoma model, identifying subcellular protein localization changes in MG. Together, GliaMorph enables an in-depth understanding of MG morphology in the developing and diseased retina.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 10 Jan 2022


  • Müller glia
  • Development
  • Glia morphology
  • Retina
  • Zebrafish


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