Science for Health
23 April 2012
Scientists at NIMR have developed an improved way to measure cell movement. The research is published in Journal of Microscopy.
Many fundamental biological processes, such as immunological responses and embryo development, depend on cell migration. Cell movements can be broadly subdivided into (i) ‘shape change’, or local movement, and (ii) long-range cell migration, when cells move distances greater than the size of the cell body.
Video microscopy allows the magnitude and direction of cell migration to be documented but often requires laborious manual or semiautomatic data analysis, that limits the number of trajectories which can be processed. Where large data sets are required in order to produce statistically meaningful results, such as cells undergoing random walk, this can be problematic.
Gregory Mashanov and Tom Carter, from NIMR’s Division of Physical Biochemistry, have developed a simple and inexpensive method to visualize and simultaneously track the movement of hundreds of individual migrating cells over periods of several days. They used low-magnification dark-field microscopy to visualize individual cells, and time-lapse video images were acquired by computer for subsequent analysis. An automated tracking algorithm was used to identify individual cells on each video image thereby allowing migration paths to be tracked using a nearest neighbour algorithm.
We have developed a simple cell migration assay which can be added to practically any upright or inverted microscope. In spite of its simplicity, the assay gives useful information about the migration of individual cells with or without the presence of chemical stimulus. It makes it possible to track hundreds or even thousand of cells simultaneously over the long time intervals required for cell migration analysis.
Gregory Mashanov and Tom Carter
Click image to view at full-size
Trajectories of individual migrating amoeba cells undergoing random migration in the absence of stimulus (yellow tracks) and directed migration in the presence of cAMP gradient (red tracks).
T.A. Nenasheva, T. Carter, G.I. Mashanov (2012)
Automatic tracking of individual migrating cells using low-magnification dark-field microscopy
Journal of Microscopy 246:83–88. Publisher abstract
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