VESsel GENeration (VESGEN) Analysis is an automated software that maps and quantifies effects of vascular regulators on vascular morphology by analyzing important vessel parameters. Quantification parameters include vessel diameter, length, branch points, density, and fractal dimension. For vascular trees, measurements are reported as dependent functions of vessel branching generation.

VESGEN maps and quantifies vascular morphological events according to fractal-based vascular branching generation. It also relies on careful imaging of branching and networked vascular form. It was developed as a plug-in for ImageJ (National Institutes of Health, USA). VESGEN uses image-processing concepts of 8-neighbor pixel connectivity, skeleton, and distance map to analyze 2D, black-and-white (binary) images of vascular trees, networks, and tree-network composites. VESGEN maps typically 5 to 12 (or more) generations of vascular branching, starting from a single parent vessel. These generations are tracked and measured for critical vascular parameters that include vessel diameter, length, density and number, and tortuosity per branching generation. The effects of vascular therapeutics and regulators on vascular morphology and branching tested in human clinical or laboratory animal experimental studies are quantified by comparing vascular parameters with control groups.

VESGEN provides a user interface to both guide and allow control over the users’ vascular analysis process. An option is provided to select a morphological tissue type of vascular trees, network or tree-network composites, which determines the general collections of algorithms, intermediate images, and output images and measurements that will be produced.

VESGEN was used to map and quantify progression of human diabetic retinopathy (DR), a vascular disease that is the major cause of blindness in working-aged adults. VESGEN maps and quantifies site-specific characteristics such as vessel diameter, number, and length based on bifurcated generational branching within retinal arterial and venous trees. To analyze ophthalmic clinical images of the human retina as a new VESGEN modification, VESGEN was modified to detect and analyze the first branching generation (parent) vessel when that vessel originates at a region of interest (ROI) located within the image (not just at the edge of an image, as for previous VESGEN studies). Other applications include remodeling coronary vessels, tumor vessels, rodent retinal experiments, gastrointestinal inflammation, and cytokine or drug regulation in in vivo models.

VESGEN also can be used for the mapping and quantification of remodeling of plant leaf venation patterns in response to plant growth, genetic engineering, and other growth perturbants. Providing VESGEN as a plug-in also makes it easily distributable, able to be run on many computer platforms, and readily utilized by other researchers.

This work was done by Patricia A. Parsons-Wingerter, Mary B. Vickerman, and Patricia A. Keith of Glenn Research Center.

Inquiries concerning rights for the commercial use of this invention should be addressed to NASA Glenn Research Center, Innovative Partnerships Office, Attn: Steven Fedor, Mail Stop 4-8, 21000 Brookpark Road, Cleveland, Ohio 44135. LEW-18722-1/3-1/4-1