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J Biophotonics. 2009 Jul;2(6-7):370-9. doi: 10.1002/jbio.200910027.

Three- and four-dimensional visualization of cell migration using optical coherence tomography.

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  • 1School of Biosciences, Cardiff University, Cardiff CF10 3AX, UK.


Conventionally, cell chemotaxis is studied on two-dimensional (2D) transparent surfaces, due to limitations in optical and image data-collection techniques. However, surfaces that more closely mimic the natural environment of cells are often opaque. Optical coherence tomography (OCT) is a noninvasive label-free imaging technique, which offers the potential to visualize moving cells on opaque surfaces and in three dimensions (3D). Here, we demonstrate that OCT is an effective means of time-lapse videomicroscopy of Dictyostelium cells undergoing 3D (2D+time) cell migration on nitrocellulose substrates and 4D (3D+time) chemotaxis within low-density agarose gels. The generated image sequences are compatible with current computer-based image-analysis software for quantification of cell motility. This demonstrates the utility of OCT for cell tracking and analysis of cell chemotaxis in complex environments.

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