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Benefits of Live Cell Analysis

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Data generated using live cell analysis approaches can be powerfully convincing. Why? There is a visceral attraction to dynamic data and video, and the brain is very good at analyzing data across time. Static images may allow measurement of structure length (e.g. neurites) but images gained from live cell analysis can be used to quantitatively measure the length of a developing neurite, or the size of an extending process, and how that process or extension might change when impacted by an environmental cue.

Comparison of Static and Dynamic Cell Analysis

Static cell analysisDynamic live cell analysis
Leveraging our innate spatiotemporal visual processing abilities Data is in discrete events and harder to combine to detect temporal changes Video-based data acquisition combined with live cell action allows easier temporal analysis
Amount of data collected Restricted by the number of static images taken Uninterrupted live cell recording provides extensive spatiotemporal data
Analyzing structure function relationships Dynamic analysis is limited by temporal resolution of static images taken Dynamic structure-function events are measured and quantifiable
Measuring cellular behavior Quantification is delayed Quantification in real-time
Analyzing static structures Limited by the number and quality of images Dynamic data allows more images of structures for quantification
Detecting unexpected unique events Limited by low sampling rate Uninterrupted live cell recording provides higher probability of capturing event

Images of the LC3-GFP CHO reporter cells cultured on the CellASIC™ ONIX microfluidic live cell imaging system taken during each phase of the hypoxia-induced autophagy assay.

Merck:/Freestyle/BI-Bioscience/Cell-Culture/cellASIC/CellASIC_Autophagy_AN3391EN00_EM-1-cover.jpg Merck:/Freestyle/BI-Bioscience/Cell-Culture/cellASIC/autophagosome-graph.jpg
Graphical representation of the autophagosome formation over time in the images captured above. (Click image to enlarge.)

Multicontent Data Approach

Live cell analysis provides for a multi-content data approach when combined with the appropriate imaging and video software. When properly outfitted, dynamic cellular analysis allows scientists to analyze many properties or features of individual cells or organisms all at once.
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This ability of live cell approaches to analyze many features simultaneously is finding uses in translational research such as high-content screening (HCS) for drug discovery. In HCS, the data from LCA can be used in both simple protein target assays or in morphological or phenotypic analyses or both simultaneously. Scientists can analyze intracellular and intercellular protein movement, and account for different sub-populations in a heterogeneous mixture. Such analysis would be nearly impossible with fixed cells or other non-imaging, non-live analysis methods. Live cell experimental designs of these kinds represent significant advancements toward more in vivo like, predictive cell culture.

For an active blog on the science and technology of live cell analysis, visit the Dynamic Cell Blog:

The Science and Technology of the Living, Dynamic Cell
Discussing the research, products, and impacts of the advancing field of dynamic cell analysis

Typical live cell imaging microscope set up


Live cell imaging systems are typically based on fluorescence or confocal microscopes with an inverted optics plan where the cultures are imaged from below. Inverted microscopes allow an environmental control box to be built onto the platform, partially enclosing the microscope but allowing access to the oculars, light source and cameras. Many live imaging microscope systems also benefit from autofocus capabilities that assist in imaging through cell monolayers as well as 3D cell and tissue cultures. In addition, since the idea of live cell imaging is to capture information on dynamic cell behavior, microscope automation allows better imaging and recording of time lapse events.

For a great resource on live cell imaging requirements, visit microscopy university