During the process of cell migration assay, analysis and records is an important part to obtain the qualitative and quantitative data and results. In addition, analysis of cell behaviors in populations is also critical for many studies in biology. Thus, many manually, semi-automatic or fully automatic cell tracking system have been developed for the selection and tracking of cell behaviors. For the automated cell tracking system, many algorithms have been developed to correctly segment and track cells in population, which can with the recording of the migration path of several dozens of cells simultaneously. The automated analysis can also cope with cell division of moving cells occurring within the recording time interval and the algorithms are valuable to achieve higher accuracy. The versatile and use-friendly living cell tracking system with the powerful algorithms is significant in cell behavior research.
Figure 1: An example of the cell tracking results
The automated cell tracking system in our laboratory can easily and effectively determine and provide detailed spatio-temporal cell behavior measurements for biological analysis. This system can analyze many cells at once and record the migration pathways to provide information about the total movement length as well as the direction and velocity at a given time point. Meanwhile, the automated cell tracking system with our distinct algorithms allows to studying the dynamics and coordinated movements of multiple cells in many cell based assays. We have applied our automatic cell tracking method to sequence of phase-contrast microscope images of a wound healing assay and our system can locate cell regions and track more than one hundreds of cells individually. Many detailed information of cell behaviors also can be obtained including the cells density, migration speed and direction, even the statistics of mitosis events. This system also can be applied to other aspects and to get high qualitative and accurate results, we have introduced many versatile living cell imaging system such as line-scanning confocal imaging system and time-lapse imaging system. The time-lapse imaging system can monitor cell movements with a Leica DMI 6000B inverted microscope using a 10X objective with phase optics and images of 1040 x 1392 pixels can be obtained every 5 minutes by using a 12-bit CCD camera. Using these tracking results, we can calculate various measurements of cell behavior characteristics and analyze the dynamic mechanisms of cell migration.
Figure 2: The experimental process of tracking would healing assay
In our advanced platform, cell morphology and trajectories including displacement, path length, cell migration speed and changes and persistence in movement direction can be accurately analyzed. Experimental protocols are optimized for different kinds of samples.
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