We suggest a new concept of predictable developmental biology dealing with 3D histology
and histopathology. Our approach is based on two ideas:
1. Elementary units (or building blocks) of tissues and multicellularity in general are not single cells per se but cell communities that we call "histions". Unlike clusters of functionally uniform cells, histions comprise cells of different types united on the basis of division of their functions. The cell-type ratio and interconnectivity pattern within each histion is tissue specific.
2. Tissues are regular cellular networks that arise as a result of polymerization of histions. It is exactly networks, not cells per se, that determine functional properties of tissues. Changes in the structure and composition of networks underlie tissue development in norm and pathology.
These basic ideas allow revealing the principles of spatial organization of epithelial sheets, computing their structural variants and, thereby, predicting and measuring tissue development.
Based on these ideas, the computer programs "Histoarch" and "Histored" have been developed to build and visualize the families of 2D and 3D histoarchitectural models as well as to dissect these models virtually in different planes.
The resultant models and their sections allowed us to elaborate a new approach to reconstructing 3D structure of epithelia. This approach consists in comparing real tissue sections with modeled sections and selecting whichever correspond to the reality best.
This approach allows accurate reconstruction of the epithelial sheet topology and constituent cells' geometry using just a few sections. Besides, it allows prediction of changes in epithelial histoarchitectonics in normal and pathological development. Moreover, it may help create an intellectual (smart) automated diagnostic system and boost the efficacy of teaching students.
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