Automated Cell Identification and Tracking Using Nanoparticle Moving-Light-Displays

<div><p>An automated technique for the identification, tracking and analysis of biological cells is presented. It is based on the use of nanoparticles, enclosed within intra-cellular vesicles, to produce clusters of discrete, point-like fluorescent, light sources within the cells. Computational analysis of these light ensembles in successive time frames of a movie sequence, using k-means clustering and particle tracking algorithms, provides robust and automated discrimination of live cells and their motion and a quantitative measure of their proliferation. This approach is a cytometric version of the <i>moving light display</i> technique which is widely used for analyzing the biological motion of humans and animals. We use the endocytosis of CdTe/ZnS, core-shell quantum dots to produce the light displays within an A549, epithelial, lung cancer cell line, using time-lapse imaging with frame acquisition every 5 minutes over a 40 hour time period. The nanoparticle moving light displays provide simultaneous collection of cell motility data, resolution of mitotic traversal dynamics and identification of familial relationships allowing construction of multi-parameter lineage trees.</p></div>