Quantitative analysis of dynamic processes in living cells by means of fluorescence microscopy imaging requires tracking of hundreds of bright spots in noisy image sequences. Deterministic approaches, which use object detection prior to tracking, perform poorly in the case of noisy image data. We propose an improved, completely automatic tracker, built within a Bayesian probabilistic framework. It better exploits spatiotemporal information and prior knowledge than common approaches, yielding more robust tracking also in cases of photobleaching and object interaction. The tracking method was evaluated using simulated but realistic image sequences, for which ground truth was available. The results of these experiments show that the method is more accurate and robust than popular tracking methods. In addition, validation experiments were conducted with real fluorescence microscopy image data acquired for microtubule growth analysis. These demonstrate that the method yields results that are in good agreement with manual tracking performed by expert cell biologists. Our findings suggest that the method may replace laborious manual procedures.

Bayesian estimation, Fluorescence microscopy, Microtubule dynamics, Molecular bioimaging, Multiple object tracking, Particle filtering (PF), Sequential Monte Carlo
dx.doi.org/10.1109/TMI.2008.916964, hdl.handle.net/1765/65204
IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Department of Medical Informatics

Smal, I, Draegestein, K, Galjart, N.J, Niessen, W.J, & Meijering, H.W. (2008). Particle filtering for multiple object tracking in dynamic fluorescence microscopy images: Application to microtubule growth analysis. IEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging, 27(6), 789–804. doi:10.1109/TMI.2008.916964