Morphology and Fractal-Based Classifications of Neurons and Microglia in Two and Three Dimensions

Audrey L. Karperien, Herbert F. Jelinek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Microglia and neurons live physically intertwined, intimately related structurally and functionally in a dynamic relationship in which microglia change continuously over a much shorter timescale than do neurons. Although microglia may unwind and depart from the neurons they attend under certain circumstances, in general, together both contribute to the fractal topology of the brain that defines its computational capabilities. Both neuronal and microglial morphologies are well-described using fractal analysis complementary to more traditional measures. For neurons, the fractal dimension has proved valuable for classifying dendritic branching and other neuronal features relevant to pathology and development. For microglia, fractal geometry has substantially contributed to classifying functional categories, where, in general, the more pathological the biological status, the lower the fractal dimension for individual cells, with some exceptions, including hyper-ramification. This chapter provides a review of the intimate relationships between neurons and microglia, by introducing 2D and 3D fractal analysis methodology and its applications in neuron-microglia function in health and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-172
Number of pages24
JournalAdvances in neurobiology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - Mar 2024


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