A New Algorithm to Analyze the Video Data of Cell Contractions in Microfluidic Platforms

Nikolay Nikolov, Roberta Visone, Igor Nesteruk, Marco Rasponi, Alberto Redaelly


Background. One of the rapidly developing trends in science is tissue engineering with use of microfluidic platform (MP) technology. To evaluate mechanical contraction of cells, optical microscopy recordings can be used. Known methods as a matter of fact substantially distort the shape and amplitude of the signal. Therefore, a modified approach is mandatory.

Objective. The development of an algorithm for the analysis of the video data of mechanical oscillations of cardiomyocytes on a microfluidic platform in order to determine their functional and structural properties at the tissue level.

Methods. The developed algorithm for the analysis of video images was implemented by the original program code in Matlab 2016. We analyzed the data of the cardiomyocyte contraction in cells cultured in MPs. Three groups of cells were analyzed: without stimulation and stimulated with electric fields of 5 and 25 V/cm. The form of the stimulating impulses is rectangular, the frequency is 1 Hz

Results. An algorithm for the video data analysis is proposed, which allows for estimating the rate of contraction in μm/s. Moreover, it allows for decomposing the mechanical oscillations of cells into components. The algorithm has been used to evaluate the change in the contraction rate of cardiomyocytes cultured in a lab-on-chip, as a function of voltage intensity and excitation frequency under different experimental conditions.

Conclusions. The proposed method does not require any auxiliary biomarkers or media. Analysis of video images allows us to estimate the amplitude and rate of oscillations, the shape of the signal, the spatial heterogeneity distribution of the mechanical activity of cells. Our results show that the pulsed electric field in the range 5–25 V/cm at frequencies of 1 Hz during cell cultivation affects negatively the mechanical functional abilities of cardiomyocytes.


Cardiomyocyte; Cell; Organ-on-chip; Oscillations; Algorithm; Video data; Optical microscopy; Tissue engineering

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