The influence of spatial and temporal resolutions on the analysis of cell-cell interaction: a systematic study for time-lapse microscopy applications
AbstractCell-cell interactions are an observable manifestation of underlying complex biological processes occurring in response to diversified biochemical stimuli. Recent experiments with microfluidic devices and live cell imaging show that it is possible to characterize cell kinematics via computerized algorithms and unravel the effects of targeted therapies. We study the influence of spatial and temporal resolutions of time-lapse videos on motility and interaction descriptors with computational models that mimic the interaction dynamics among cells. We show that the experimental set-up of time-lapse microscopy has a direct impact on the cell tracking algorithm and on the derived numerical descriptors. We also show that, when comparing kinematic descriptors in two diverse experimental conditions, too low resolutions may alter the descriptors’ discriminative power, and so the statistical significance of the difference between the two compared distributions. The conclusions derived from the computational models were experimentally confirmed by a series of video-microscopy acquisitions of co-cultures of unlabelled human cancer and immune cells embedded in 3D collagen gels within microfluidic devices. We argue that the experimental protocol of acquisition should be adapted to the specific kind of analysis involved and to the chosen descriptors in order to derive reliable conclusions and avoid biasing the interpretation of results.