Diffeomorphic Multi-Frame Non-Rigid Registration of Cell Nuclei in 2D and 3D Live Cell Images

IEEE Trans Image Process. 2017 Mar;26(3):1405-1417. doi: 10.1109/TIP.2017.2653360. Epub 2017 Jan 16.


To gain a better understanding of cellular and molecular processes, it is important to quantitatively analyze the motion of subcellular particles in live cell microscopy image sequences. Since, generally, the subcellular particles move and cell nuclei move as well as deform, it is important to decouple the movement of particles from that of the cell nuclei using non-rigid registration methods. We have developed a diffeomorphic multi-frame approach for non-rigid registration of cell nuclei in 2D and 3D live cell fluorescence microscopy images. Our non-rigid registration approach is based on local optic flow estimation, exploits information from multiple consecutive image frames, and determines diffeomorphic transformations in the log-domain, which allows efficient computation of the inverse transformations. To register single images of an image sequence to a reference image, we use a temporally weighted mean image, which is constructed based on inverse transformations and multiple consecutive frames. Using multiple consecutive frames improves the registration accuracy compared to pairwise registration, and using a temporally weighted mean image significantly reduces the computation time compared with previous work. In addition, we use a flow boundary preserving method for regularization of computed deformation vector fields, which prevents from over-smoothing compared to standard Gaussian filtering. Our approach has been successfully applied to 2D and 3D synthetic as well as real live cell microscopy image sequences, and an experimental comparison with non-rigid pairwise, multi-frame, and temporal groupwise registration has been carried out.