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Journal Article

Identifying same-cell contours in image stacks: a key step in making 3D reconstructions.


Heisenberg,  C P
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Max Planck Society;

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Leung, T. K. S., Veldhuis, J. H., Krens, S. F. G., Heisenberg, C. P., & Brodland, G. W. (2011). Identifying same-cell contours in image stacks: a key step in making 3D reconstructions. Annals of Biomedical Engineering, 39(2), 698-705.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-0001-0A32-C
Identification of contours belonging to the same cell is a crucial step in the analysis of confocal stacks and other image sets in which cell outlines are visible, and it is central to the making of 3D cell reconstructions. When the cells are close packed, the contour grouping problem is more complex than that found in medical imaging, for example, because there are multiple regions of interest, the regions are not separable from each other by an identifiable background and regions cannot be distinguished by intensity differences. Here, we present an algorithm that uses three primary metrics-overlap of contour areas in adjacent images, co-linearity of the centroids of these areas across three images in a stack, and cell taper-to assign cells to groups. Decreasing thresholds are used to successively assign contours whose membership is less obvious. In a final step, remaining contours are assigned to existing groups by setting all thresholds to zero and groups having strong hour-glass shapes are partitioned. When applied to synthetic data from isotropic model aggregates, a curved model epithelium in which the long axes of the cells lie at all possible angles to the transection plane, and a confocal image stack, algorithm assignments were between 97 and 100% accurate in sets having at least four contours per cell. The algorithm is not particularly sensitive to the thresholds used, and a single set of parameters was used for all of the tests. The algorithm, which could be extended to time-lapse data, solves a key problem in the translation of image data into cell information.