Talebizadeh N, Hagström NZ, Yu Z, Kronschläger M, Söderberg P, Wählby C
Cytometry A 91 (8) 815-821 [2017-08-00; online 2017-05-11]
Visual quantification and classification of fluorescent signals is the gold standard in microscopy. The purpose of this study was to develop an automated method to delineate cells and to quantify expression of fluorescent signal of biomarkers in each nucleus and cytoplasm of lens epithelial cells in a histological section. A region of interest representing the lens epithelium was manually demarcated in each input image. Thereafter, individual cell nuclei within the region of interest were automatically delineated based on watershed segmentation and thresholding with an algorithm developed in Matlab™. Fluorescence signal was quantified within nuclei, cytoplasms and juxtaposed backgrounds. The classification of cells as labelled or not labelled was based on comparison of the fluorescence signal within cells with local background. The classification rule was thereafter optimized as compared with visual classification of a limited dataset. The performance of the automated classification was evaluated by asking 11 independent blinded observers to classify all cells (n = 395) in one lens image. Time consumed by the automatic algorithm and visual classification of cells was recorded. On an average, 77% of the cells were correctly classified as compared with the majority vote of the visual observers. The average agreement among visual observers was 83%. However, variation among visual observers was high, and agreement between two visual observers was as low as 71% in the worst case. Automated classification was on average 10 times faster than visual scoring. The presented method enables objective and fast detection of lens epithelial cells and quantification of expression of fluorescent signal with an accuracy comparable with the variability among visual observers. © 2017 International Society for Advancement of Cytometry.