Application of stereology to dermatological research

Kamp S, Jemec G B E, Kemp K, Kjeldsen C R, Stenderup K, Pakkenberg B, Dam T N
Exp Dermatol 2009 18(12): 1001-1009
Stereology is a set of mathematical and statistical tools to estimate three-dimensional (3-D) characteristics of objects from regular two-dimensional (2-D) sections. In medicine and biology, it can be used to estimate features such as cell volume, cell membrane surface area, total length of blood vessels per volume tissue and total number of cells. The unbiased quantification of these 3-D features allows for a better understanding of morphology in vivo compared with 2-D methods. This review provides an introduction to the field of stereology with specific emphasis on the application of stereology to dermatological research by supplying a short insight into the theoretical basis behind the technique and presenting previous dermatological studies in which stereology was an integral part. Both the theory supporting stereology and a practical approach in a dermatological setting are reviewed with the aim to provide the reader with the capability to better assess papers employing stereological estimators and to design stereological studies independently.