Development and evaluation of spatial point process models for epidermal nerve fibers
Journal article, 2013

We propose two spatial point process models for the spatial structure of epidermal nerve fibers (ENFs) across human skin. The models derive from two point processes, Φb and Φe, describing the locations of the base and end points of the fibers. Each point of Φe (the end point process) is connected to a unique point in Φb (the base point process). In the first model, both Φe and Φb are Poisson processes, yielding a null model of uniform coverage of the skin by end points and general baseline results and reference values for moments of key physiologic indicators. The second model provides a mechanistic model to generate end points for each base, and we model the branching structure more directly by defining Φe as a cluster process conditioned on the realization of Φb as its parent points. In both cases, we derive distributional properties for observable quantities of direct interest to neurologists such as the number of fibers per base, and the direction and range of fibers on the skin. We contrast both models by fitting them to data from skin blister biopsy images of ENFs and provide inference regarding physiological properties of ENFs.

Branch length

Cluster process


Marked point process

Epidermal nerve fiber

Angle distribution




Viktor Olsbo

Chalmers, Mathematical Sciences, Mathematical Statistics

University of Gothenburg

Mari Myllymäki

Aalto University

L. A. Waller

Emory University

Aila Särkkä

University of Gothenburg

Chalmers, Mathematical Sciences, Mathematical Statistics

Mathematical Biosciences

0025-5564 (ISSN)

Vol. 243 2 178-189

Subject Categories


Biological Sciences



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