Nuclear morphometrics and chromatin condensation patterns as disease biomarkers using a mobile microscope

PLoS One. 2019 Jul 17;14(7):e0218757. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218757. eCollection 2019.


Current cancer diagnosis involves the use of nuclear morphology and chromatin condensation signatures for accurate advanced stage classification. While such diagnostic approaches rely on high resolution imaging of the cell nucleus using expensive microscopy systems, developing portable mobile microscopes to visualize nuclear and chromatin condensation patterns is desirable at clinical settings with limited infrastructure. In this study, we develop a portable fluorescent mobile microscope capable of acquiring high resolution images of the nucleus and chromatin. Using this we extracted nuclear morphometric and chromatin texture based features and were able to discriminate between normal and cancer cells with similar accuracy as wide-field fluorescence microscopy. We were also able to detect subtle changes in nuclear and chromatin features in cells subjected to compressive forces, cytoskeletal perturbations and cytokine stimulation, thereby highlighting the sensitivity of the portable microscope. Taken together, we present a versatile platform to exploit nuclear morphometrics and chromatin condensation features as physical biomarkers for point-of-care diagnostic solutions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / genetics
  • Cell Nucleus / pathology
  • Chromatin / genetics*
  • Chromosomes / genetics*
  • Heterochromatin / genetics
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Microscopy, Fluorescence*
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / genetics
  • Neoplasms / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Chromatin
  • Heterochromatin

Grant support

We thank the Mechanobiology Institute (MBI), National University of Singapore (NUS), Singapore and the Ministry of Education (MOE) Tier-3 Grant Program for funding.