COPD – Emphysema


Quantitative analysis of pulmonary emphysema is still widely performed by the mean linear intercept (Lm) method. However, Lm is not the best morphometric parameter, being highly observer-dependent while its implementation is very long, tedious and therefore not suitable for screening numerous lung sections. To overcome the limitations of Lm, Biocellvia successfully developed a fully automatic digital imaging assay based on the multiparametric measurement of emphysema.


  • Based on computer analysis of digital images of whole lung lobe sections at high resolution (pixel size: 0.452 µm), obtained from scans of histological slides
  • Quantitative analysis of emphysema is performed by assessing multiple key morphometric parameters of parenchymal tissue: (1) airspace density, (2) airspace diameter (3) number of airspaces, (4) emphysema coefficient, (5) density of parenchymal tissue.
  • The assessment of multiple morphometric parameters has been validated as endpoint measurements in several rodent models in which emphysema was induced by elastase or cigarette smoke, as well as in genetically modified mice.
  • The quantification of emphysema is fully automatic from the scanning of slides to the complete evaluation of morphometric parameters and statistical analysis. This analysis is very rapid (<2h for 100 whole lung sections) and avoids any intra- and inter-variabilities from the subjective manipulation of the experimenter.
Sans titre (10)

Figure 1. Representative images of automatic delineation of airspaces in parenchyma of whole lung sections of control and elastase treated lungs of mice. Bronchi and vessels were deleted automatically from original images (top images). After the delimitation of airspaces throughout the entire lung section, pixels of the alveolar parenchyma were colored in blue and the airspaces in red (bottom images). Bars: 100 µm and 250 µm.

Figure 2. Assessment of airspace morphometric parameters in entire lung sections of control and elastase-treated mice. Elastase (2U) induced a statistically significant increase of density and diameter of airspaces along with a significant decrease of the number of airspaces. Data correspond to mean ± sem.


  • Concurrent to the evaluation of morphometric parameters, an automatic software image analysis was developed to quantify the expression of collagen in the whole lung section. We showed that this quantification of lung collagen – from Masson trichrome or picrosirius red stained sections – is far superior than the standard hydroxyproline or Sircol methods.


  • Biocellvia’s  pulmonary emphysema assay is a fully automatic software analysis of pulmonary fibrosis, totally observer-independentand therefore free of any intra- and inter-experimental variabilities.
  • Quantitative assessment of emphysema is performed by matching multiple morphometric parameters of both parenchymal tissue and airspaces, leading to a significantly more comprehensive analysis of structural changes than the manual or semi-automatic standard methods.
  • The Biocellvia’s analysis is performed on whole lung sections as opposed to standard methods which are conducted on limited regions of interest. Accordingly, the automatic analysis enables the assessment of a much larger surface of parenchyma, contributing to greater accuracy and reliability of the data.
  • Biocellvia’s pulmonary emphysema assay is coupled to the measurement of collagen content in whole lung sections. Therefore, morphological changes can be closely associated with collagen expression in the same sample, which cannot be performed as finely by hydroxyproline or Sircol assays.

Biocellvia’s cutting-edge digital emphysema assay is unparalleled in its robustness and accuracy, and is your best and most reliable choice in preclinical drug evaluation, empowering your Go/No decisions.

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