Taking Aim at Moving Targets in Computational Cell Migration

Trends Cell Biol. 2016 Feb;26(2):88-110. doi: 10.1016/j.tcb.2015.09.003. Epub 2015 Nov 10.


Cell migration is central to the development and maintenance of multicellular organisms. Fundamental understanding of cell migration can, for example, direct novel therapeutic strategies to control invasive tumor cells. However, the study of cell migration yields an overabundance of experimental data that require demanding processing and analysis for results extraction. Computational methods and tools have therefore become essential in the quantification and modeling of cell migration data. We review computational approaches for the key tasks in the quantification of in vitro cell migration: image pre-processing, motion estimation and feature extraction. Moreover, we summarize the current state-of-the-art for in silico modeling of cell migration. Finally, we provide a list of available software tools for cell migration to assist researchers in choosing the most appropriate solution for their needs.

Keywords: algorithms; bioinformatics; cell migration; cell tracking; image processing; modeling.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement*
  • Cell Tracking / methods*
  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Software