Joint Level-Set and Spatio-Temporal Motion Detection for Cell Segmentation

TitleJoint Level-Set and Spatio-Temporal Motion Detection for Cell Segmentation
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2016
AuthorsBoukari F, Makrogiannis S
JournalBMC Medical Genomics
Volume9 Suppl 2
Start Page49

Cell segmentation is a critical step for quantification and monitoring of cell cycle progression, cell migration, and growth control to investigate cellular immune response, embryonic development, tumorigenesis, and drug effects on live cells in time-lapse microscopy images.In this study, we propose a joint spatio-temporal diffusion and region-based level-set optimization approach for moving cell segmentation. Moving regions are initially detected in each set of three consecutive sequence images by numerically solving a system of coupled spatio-temporal partial differential equations. In order to standardize intensities of each frame, we apply a histogram transformation approach to match the pixel intensities of each processed frame with an intensity distribution model learned from all frames of the sequence during the training stage. After the spatio-temporal diffusion stage is completed, we compute the edge map by nonparametric density estimation using Parzen    kernels. This process is followed by watershed-based segmentation and moving cell detection. We use this result as an initial level-set function to evolve the cell boundaries, refine the delineation, and optimize the final segmentation result. We applied this method to several datasets of fluorescence microscopy images with varying levels of difficulty with respect to cell density, resolution, contrast, and signal-to-noise ratio. We compared the results with those produced by Chan and Vese segmentation, a temporally linked level-set technique, and nonlinear diffusion-based segmentation. We validated all segmentation techniques against reference masks provided by the international Cell Tracking Challenge consortium. The proposed approach delineated cells with an average Dice similarity coefficient of 89 \% over a variety of simulated and real fluorescent image sequences. It yielded average improvements of 11 \% in segmentation accuracy compared to both strictly spatial and temporally linked Chan-Vese techniques, and 4 \% compared to the nonlinear spatio-temporal diffusion method. Despite the wide variation in cell shape, density, mitotic events, and image quality among the datasets, our proposed method produced promising segmentation results. These results indicate the efficiency and robustness of this method especially for mitotic events and low SNR imaging, enabling the application of subsequent quantification tasks.