Live Cell Imaging

Develop assays that can best mimic the in vivo nature of cells

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What is live cell imaging?

Live cell imaging is the study of cellular structure and function in living cells via microscopy. It enables the visualization and quantitation of dynamic cellular processes in real time. The ability to study cellular and subcellular structure, function, and organization in living systems aids in the development of assays that are more biologically relevant and that can better predict the human response to new drug candidates. Live cell imaging encompasses a broad range of topics and biological applications—whether it is performing long-term kinetic assays or fluorescently labeling live cells.
Time-lapse video of fibroblast cell division. Time-lapse imaging was performed for a total time of 18 hours. Fibroblasts stably expressed mCherry-H2B (red, nuclei) and GFP-β-tubulin (green, tubulin)

Benefits of live cell research

Live cell imaging is a fundamental research tool in cell biology labs and in a wide variety of industries, and it has led to the discovery of drug targets and candidates as well as the molecular mechanisms involved in diseases. Critical for these researchers, is the ability to develop assays that can best mimic the in vivo nature of cells. Benefits of imaging live cells include:

Cellular imaging and analysis workflow

Protocols for culturing, plating, and maintaining live cells will vary between different cell models however, the steps below outlines a generalized workflow for live cell assays.

Cellular imaging and analysis workflow

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  1. Plate cells into labware of choice (chamber slides, dishes, microplates)
  2. Treat cells – Perform cell treatments with desired compounds, RNAi, etc. if part of the assay workflow.
  3. Stain for markers – If required, label cells with the desired fluorophores (fluorescent dyes, fluorescent protein – peptide fusions, etc.
  4. Environmental controls – If the acquisition will take a long time or if the assay is a live cell time-lapse experiment (continuous or discontinuous), then enable full environmental control including gas, temperature, and humidity.
  5. Acquire cell image – Place the plate into the automated imaging system and start acquiring your live cell images
  6. Analyze cell image – Use cellular imaging analysis software to run quantitative analysis of live cell images

Live cell imaging system

Sophisticated live cell imaging systems provide the ability to regulate environmental conditions to maintain the health and viability of cells while monitoring molecular and cellular dynamics from the single cell to organismal level. From the study of fast-kinetic events to running long-term, time-lapse assays, automated live cell imaging provides the direct observation of dynamic biological processes and the ability to generate a wealth of cellular information

Applications and assays

Advancements in automated microscopes with integrated environmental control chambers as well as in fluorescent protein and synthetic fluorophore technology have expanded the capabilities of researchers investigating biological processes in living cells.

Our systems for high-content imaging and analysis provide flexible scalability making it easy to evolve your system alongside your research. They feature options and modules to address your specific research needs including objectives, filters, imaging modes, and environmental control. Here we have a collection of applications and assays that utilize these key features for your live cell imaging research:

Latest Resources

Live Cell Imaging and Analysis Workflow

The described live cell imaging workflow is a generalized example of a continuous long-term time-lapse live cell assay. This workflow breaks down the steps from cell plating to image analysis and highlights the materials and instrumentation necessary to run a live cell assay including an automated high-content imaging system and cellular imaging and analysis software.

Resources for Live Cell Imaging