A novel automatic segmentation and tracking method to measure cellular dielectrophoretic mobility from individual cell trajectories for high throughput assay

Seungyeop Choi, Hyunwoo Lee, Sena Lee, Insu Park, Yoon Suk Kim, Jaehong Key, Sei Young Lee, Sejung Yang, Sang Woo Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background and Objective: The dielectrophoresis (DEP) technique is increasingly being recognised as a potentially valuable tool for non-contact manipulation of numerous cells as well as for biological single cell analysis with non-invasive characterisation of a cell's electrical properties. Several studies have attempted to track multiple cells to characterise their cellular DEP mobility. However, they encountered difficulties in simultaneously tracking the movement of a large number of individual cells in a bright-field image sequence because of interference from the background electrode pattern. Consequently, this present study aims to develop an automatic system for imaging-based characterisation of cellular DEP mobility, which enables the simultaneous tracking of several hundred of cells inside a microfluidic device. Methods: : The proposed method for segmentation and tracking of cells consists of two main stages: pre-processing and particle centre localisation. In the pre-processing stage, background subtraction and contrast enhancement were performed to distinguish the cell region from the background image. In the particle centre localisation stage, the unmarked cell was automatically detected via graph-cut algorithm-based K-means clustering. Results: : Our algorithm enabled segmentation and tracking of numerous Michigan Cancer Foundation-7 (MCF-7) cell trajectories while the DEP force was oscillated between positive and negative. The cell tracking accuracy and cell count capability was at least 90% of the total number of cells with the newly developed algorithm. In addition, the cross-over frequency was measured by analysing the segmented and tracked trajectory data of the cellular movements caused by the positive and negative DEP force. The measured cross-over frequency was compared with previous results. The multi-cellular movements investigation based on the measured cross-over frequency was repeated until the viability of cells was unchanged in the same environment as in a microfluidic device. The results were statistically consistent, indicating that the developed algorithm was reliable for the investigation of DEP cellular mobility. Conclusion: : This study developed a powerful platform to simultaneously measure the DEP-induced trajectories of numerous cells, and to investigate in a robust, efficient, and accurate manner the DEP properties at both the single cell and cell ensemble level.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105662
JournalComputer Methods and Programs in Biomedicine
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020 Elsevier B.V.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Software
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Science Applications


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