An Automated Multi Well Cell Track System to Study Leukocyte Migration

J Immunol Methods. 2003 Sep;280(1-2):89-102. doi: 10.1016/s0022-1759(03)00262-x.


Design of automated image processing systems to determine migration characteristics of individual cells is not trivial. Every test sample requires separate recording and the analysis of individual cell tracks in two- or three-dimensional migration systems by time-lapse microscopy is extremely laborious. Here, we describe a new Automated Cell Track System (ACTS). In addition to contrast differences, which are used by existing analysis systems, the ACTS algorithms recognize cells on the basis of morphological similarities in successive images and adapt to the continuous shape changes of individual cells during migration. The system facilitates simultaneous analysis of multiple cells and the measurement of multiple wells in one single experiment. We validated the system studying HSB-2 T cell migration in standard 96-well microtiter plates coated with ICAM-1-Fc protein or control CD14-Fc protein. Migration of HSB-2 T cells on ICAM-1-Fc is Leukocyte Function-associated Antigen-1 (LFA-1)-mediated and both the number and the speed of migrating cells depend on the ICAM-1-Fc concentration. We show that automated analysis of the migration data yields similar results as manual analysis, but in a fraction of the time. We conclude that this system is extremely well suited to precisely monitor the migratory behavior of individual cells. The analysis of multiple wells in parallel makes this set-up appropriate in high throughput screening in which multiple components are simultaneously tested for their effect on cell migration.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cell Adhesion
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Movement*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / instrumentation
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / statistics & numerical data
  • Immunologic Techniques / instrumentation
  • Immunologic Techniques / statistics & numerical data
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1 / physiology
  • Leukocytes / physiology*
  • Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1 / physiology
  • Microscopy, Video / methods
  • Microscopy, Video / statistics & numerical data
  • Reproducibility of Results


  • Lymphocyte Function-Associated Antigen-1
  • Intercellular Adhesion Molecule-1